Customer Service Tip of the Week

Reach Out to Customers the Right Way - 3/31/20


Depending on what industry that you work in, business is either booming, or it’s greatly slowed down.  I’m not sure if there’s much of a middle ground these days – where industries are working as normal. If you’re in one of the industries where business has slowed, there may be Read more

LEAD them Away from Anger - 3/24/20


Last week we addressed keeping our personal sanity.  This week, let’s discuss dealing with customer insanity.  That may not be the best choice of words, but many customers are overreacting.  In last week’s Tip, we discussed dealing with emotions of anxiety and nervousness from customers, but many customers are Read more

4 Tips for Personal Sanity in Public Crisis - 3/17/20


We can only control what we can control.  There are times like these where the healthcare world is fighting a quickly-spreading virus, and governmental, business, and other organizations are making changes to try to mitigate risks and find solutions where possible. With all this activity swirling around us, we still Read more

Create Mutually-beneficial Relationships - 3/10/20


We have worked with many clients over the years who have long-term staff in customer service roles.  At some point, the company decides to add a sales component to the responsibilities of the representatives, and the sparks start to fly! I was not hired to sell. This is not in Read more

Predictability Excites these Customers - 3/3/20


Sherrie had used that airport one too many times.  Sure it was convenient to her home, only 20 minutes away, but it seemed like every time she scheduled a flight, there was a delay.  And since it was not a “hub” airport, if she had to fly any significant Read more

Who Loves Ya, Baby? - 2/25/20


Telly Savalas played Kojak - a hard-nosed detective who solved crimes while eating a lollipop.  He was a tough guy with a tough attitude but a soft side.  He used to say:  Who loves ya, baby? So, who loves their customer? If you want to see somebody who loves their Read more

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

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 Multi-tasking is Overrated in Customer Service – 5/7/13 TOW

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I was meeting with a sports business client recently, and they were describing that they have allocated portions of different staff’s time to use in relationship development with season ticket holders. And while it is interesting that they were beginning to devote time to serving existing customers through account representative relationships, it is also interesting to note how they were doing it. They were not devoting staff full-time to relationship management. They were taking about 30 percent of multiple people’s time to develop relationships with their account holders.

It was their perspective that they were managing approximately 4,000 season ticket holders with five employees (a high 800:1 ratio). In fact, since staff only spent about 30% of their time managing those relationships, they were actually managing 4,000 accounts with about 1.5 employees (or an even higher 2,700:1 ratio).

It is very difficult for employees to spend the vast majority of their time doing things other than developing relationships and still be expected to do a great job in relationship management. In other words, it is very difficult for people to spend their time on many different tasks and be expected to be great in any one of those tasks.

As an organization, if you want to be great at customer service or great at relationship management, can you be great if it is a small percentage of a lot of people’s work?

If you want to be great at something as an individual, can you be great if you are doing 15 or 30 often unrelated tasks during the course of the day?

Organizations wanting staff to be generalists need to understand the difficulty in creating great performance.

As an individual, you need to organize your work so that you can spend as much of your time as possible in blocks focused on one or two activities. Continual shifting into/out of different tasks does not lend itself to efficiency and high quality.

In order to be great at one thing, we need to figure out how to allocate our time to focus on that one thing for longer stretches of time.

Multi-tasking minute-to-minute is overrated. Focus your work, allocate your time in blocks, and succeed.


Seek Confusion – 4/30/13 TOW

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Do you want to be a hero?

Employees get some of the greatest compliments, the most sincere thanks from customers and co-workers alike when they make the murky clear. When they make the unknown known. When they help the customer to set a clear path, overcoming their indecision.

In other words, when you take a customer who is confused, and you add clarity, those customers are usually so appreciative. They say “NOW I understand” or “Thank you so much for clearing that up!” or “That helps a lot!” When people are confused, they feel helpless, get frustrated, are embarrassed, and generally have a whole lot of negative emotions and thoughts that build-up inside (and often outside, too!).

So do you want to be a “Customer Service Hero?” Here’s a key – Seek Confusion.

Literally put out your radar for something specific – look for the confused customer. They are the one staring for an eternity at the office directory in the lobby. They are the one pausing in the hallway and looking around. They are literally scratching their head, looking all around a shelf or an office without selecting anything or going in a specific direction. They are typically walking more slowly and often meandering more than heading in a straight line.

On the phone? They’re pausing frequently, sounding unsure of what best phrase or words to use (I’m like this a lot myself when talking to an automotive service center – “I might need to have my brake pads…uh…rotors…a full brake job…well, tuned up…”). They may spend two minutes describing an issue instead of just asking for the department that addresses it…because they don’t know who they should be talking with about the topic.

One advantage most employees have over most customers is that the employee knows their products, processes, services, and policies SO MUCH better than customers. To be a Customer Service Hero, we need to put ourselves in a position to share that knowledge.

We need to look for signs of customers needing clarity and direction, and we need to proactively engage them.

We need to Seek Confusion.


Customer Service Lessons from an 18 Year Old Hitchhiker – 4/23/13 TOW

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Cameron wanted to see the world, but not on an iPhone or by flying through the friendly skies. He wanted to see the World (or at least North America, Mexico, and Central America) by foot…and with an occasional ride from a stranger. Over the past year, Cameron has hitchhiked to Vancouver, East across Canada, down the East Coast of the U.S. to Central America, up to Mexico, and back to the East Coast of the U.S.

Earning money by playing guitar, and hitchhiking 250+ times, Cameron had to establish rapport quickly with the restaurant owner to wash dishes or play a gig, and with the truck driver to hitch a ride. So I asked him, “How do you meet someone and get them comfortable enough with you in five minutes to give you a ride to the next town? How do you get that rapport and trust that quickly?”

Here’s what he said:

  • Be VERY clear on your goals – He wanted to get to a certain town or location, and he specifically stated that
  • Paint a picture of how you’ve done it in the past – People have fear of the unknown; Cameron overcame the fear by giving examples of what he’s done in the past with others in similar situations
  • Ask them questions about themselves – People like to talk about themselves; they tend to like you more if you show interest in them
  • Be sincere – He truly was interested in what they said; he’s learning-oriented
  • If you hold back, they will not trust you – For them to be open to you, open up to them; thoroughly answer all their questions
  • Adjust your level of “animation” to theirs – Body language is big! People tend to be more comfortable with those who have similar mannerisms. He was always himself, but he adjusted his animation based on the other person.

To be great at customer service, you often have to establish rapport quickly.

Learn a few lessons from an 18 year old hitchhiker.