Customer Service Tip of the Week

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? – 6/25/19

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You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process.

First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from them to us. We received the output. They complete a form, and they routed it to us. They have a complaint, and they send it to us. They make a sale, and they give the account to us. In this part of the process, we receive the output.

But we also provide the input. We take that difficult customer and sometimes escalate them to another person or area. We take that client, and we refer them to a premium services division for upselling. We work through our part of the process, and we hand off the information to the person managing the next step.

So, we receive the output, and we provide the input. As part of the process, we definitely benefit by making the process better. When we receive output that has questions or quality concerns or is not timely, particularly when this happens with some regularity, we can improve the process by professionally pointing out the problems; when we point out the problems, we should try to suggest solutions as well.

In terms of us playing the input role, we should seek the same information just recommended for you to provide to others. Contact co-workers who receive our input, and ask about our timeliness, quality, and completeness. Ask them what works well. Ask them for solutions to concerns.

If we want to deliver great customer service, we need to understand our role in the process.

Be of value to your teammates – whether you receive the output or provide the input.

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Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard – 6/18/19

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CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our clients.

Some of the comments are rants, and some are raves, but one thing that’s interesting is their reaction to our response. Whether it’s a complaint or a compliment they share, they’re ALWAYS appreciative that we responded to their message.

In many cases, they’re probably appreciative just because – these days – too many companies don’t respond, so the customer’s expectation level for good customer service and responsiveness is really low.

But in other cases, they’re appreciative because of what we said and how we said it. We thank them, make some specific note about what they described, and – if appropriate – tell them we’re going to share their comment with our client so the client will follow-up with them directly.

The key here is making “some specific note about what they described.” This isn’t an auto-response we’re sending; it isn’t an insincere “I hear you, I hear you, I hear you” message. It isn’t a pure form letter.

They took the time to share their personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences, and we took the time to specifically acknowledge and appreciate them and what they shared.

Why do people share? They share just to share, but they also share to be heard.

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It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? – 6/11/19

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Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard.

You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put into a position to make decisions. Those decisions lead us down Path A or Path B. Those decisions make our life easier or harder. Those decisions help the bottom line or hurt the bottom line. And those decisions make the customer happy or upset.

What makes those decisions so hard is that one decision might help the bottom line but make the customer upset. Another decision might make your life harder but make the customer happy.

I’m not in your shoes, so I cannot tell you what decision to make. Each one of you makes hundreds of decisions each week at work and in your personal life. Neither you nor I can anticipate every situation that you’ll be presented with or every question you’ll have to consider.

But what will make your work-related decisions easier is to at least have a starting point. Even before you’re presented with a situation, know and document the principles that will guide your decision-making.

Here are some key principles to consider in your decision-making processes if your job is customer service related: Be ethical. Do what’s best for the customer now. Do what helps the organization long-term.

These might seem short and simple, but it’s amazing how the appropriate decision becomes much clearer if each alternative is tested against these principles.

What principles guide your decision-making at work? Know them, write them down, and remember them.

The next time you make a decision, let your principles be your guide.

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