Customer Service Tip of the Week

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected Read more

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Analyze This… – 7/2/13 TOW

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No we’re not talking about the Robert De Niro movie. I’m going to give you a real world situation, and I want you to analyze the customer service of this employee – Frank the building inspector.

Frank looked at his list of inspections for the day and cringed at the first one on the list. “What a way to start the day,” he murmured. “Waynesville Brothers Contracting. I can’t stand those guys. They’re always trying to get away with stuff. Drives me crazy.”

As Frank started out to the job site, he grew more irate about the conversation he anticipated having. When he got there to do the inspection, the site manager was a new guy named Pete. Frank immediately went up to Pete and introduced himself by name. Pete responded “it’s good to meet you.” Frank responded gruffly, “I won’t be here long hopefully. I’ll let you know what I find out.”

Soon Frank started the inspection, and as was usually the case with Waynesville Brothers Contracting, he found lots of issues. But for a first inspection, it wasn’t quite as bad as normal. When he went back to Pete, he interrupted Pete’s discussion with a subcontractor and said, “I’m ready when you are to go over this stuff.”

Pete asked “How did we do?,” and Frank responded “let me go through the list – there’s several items to address.”

As they walked through the items, Pete asked several questions. Whereas he was an experienced manager, he had moved to the East Coast within the past year from the Midwest, and he wasn’t as familiar with the State code. When Frank realized this, he slowed down on his review of the items, and he clearly stated why some of the items were in violation of code.

At the end, Frank said, “do you have any more questions, Pete?” Pete said “Nope, I’ve got it.” Frank said, “then let me give you a number to call and a website when you’re ready to schedule the re-inspection.” After providing the information, Frank said, “good to meet you. Have a good one,” and he left.

Now for the analysis. . .

What did Frank do right? What did Frank do wrong? Analyze Frank’s mindset, his terminology, his probable tone of voice, his assumptions, his use of personal names, and his general way of interacting.

While I’m sure you did a great job in analyzing Frank, it’s not always as easy to analyze ourselves. . .but we need to do so. To get better, we have to know the starting point – how we’re doing today.

So analyze yourself after you have a customer interaction. Try to do this at least once per day – particularly with conversations that you can tell – in your gut – did not go well. Ask “What did I do well?” and “What could I have done better?”

To improve, know your starting point. Analyze yourself.

 


The Customer is Always Right? – 6/25/13 TOW

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The customer was so upset, but about what? The event was “general admission,” so this customer thought that she and her husband could sit anywhere. Logical, right? Well, the e-mail from the arena staff noted that general admission only applied to certain sections. The husband got the e-mail; the wife was the one who got upset. After dialoguing with a customer service representative, the wife realized that her husband forgot to tell her that it was only for certain sections, and they were trying to get into a section which wasn’t general admission. They apologized to the representative and walked away.

At another arena well before game time, a fan arrived, and the seat attendant asked if she needed help finding her seat. The fan said “No, I’ve been here before.” She walked down a few steps and turned left down the row to a seat.

A few minutes later, two couples walked up to the seat attendant, and the seat attendant asked if they needed help finding their seats. The fans said “No, we’ve been here before.” So they walked down a few steps and turned left. They walked right toward the lady. The seat attendant watched as they talked with the lady. She then stood up, and the couples sat down. Then the lady walked toward the seat attendant and started complaining, griping, and blaming HIM for her sitting in the wrong seat.

The customer is not always right. Sometimes they’re really, really wrong. But the best in customer service find a way to treat the customer right, even if they’re wrong. It’s not easy to do; it may not be natural to do, but it’s the right thing to do.

Be the bigger person. Be in a service mindset even when the customer is wrong.

 


Round 1 – Sales v. Service – Ding, Ding! – 6/18/13 TOW

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They worked as a team…an individualized dysfunctional team. Let me know if you ever heard a story like this before.

Darla was just about the greatest sales rep ever. She could take someone from suspect to prospect to client literally in a matter of a few minutes or 2-3 conversations. Steven was the consummate professional when it came to customer service and client retention. He thrived in those 1-on-1 moments of truth, and he was strategic enough to nurture and grow relationships over time.

Darla and Steven hated each other. It wasn’t love-hate; it was more like respectful hate-hate. The way the business was organized, the sales rep made the sale, and then they’d turn the account over to service from that point forward. Darla only got commission off the initial sale, and she didn’t think that was fair since the organization earned thousands of dollars a year off renewals of contracts. She would actually earn more money if the client would cancel every year and sign a new contract with her the next day. “Why don’t I get compensated for future contracts that I started for the company?”, Darla would think.

Steven got evaluated and compensated on renewals, but he was always upset because Sales never obtained or shared the kind of information he needed to retain the new client, so he was essentially starting from scratch in relationship building with every new client. “Why can’t Sales think of anyone but themselves when they get a new client?”, Steven often wondered.

Darla and Steven were so good at what they did individually that they saw the shortcomings of the other very clearly.

This all-too-true story is about siloed organizations and misaligned incentives. If you want the organization to succeed, you have to incent staff to do what’s best for the long-term benefit of the customer and the WHOLE company – not just their own division or department.

Look at your incentives. Do they promote the department or the company? Do they focus on the short-term or long-term?

Ensure departments know how they impact each other – how their “output” is their co-worker’s “input.” Then incent long-term success.