Customer Service Tip of the Week

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Using I, We, or You in Customer Service - 9/1/20


It’s amazing how many conversations can go horribly wrong or incredibly right, not because of the use of a 4-letter word, but simply because of the use of a 1, 2, or 3-letter word – I, We, You. The incorrect use of I, We, You in conversations causes problems more Read more

Get Your Guru On - 8/25/20


You may have heard of management gurus - these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior. And so Read more

Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right - 8/18/20


This is a famous Henry Ford quote, and the quote is all about self-belief, all about confidence. We’ve often spoken about the need to be confident and how to gain confidence, because that confidence - or the lack thereof - is imparted on the customer. But how does a customer tell Read more

Grind it out Today for a Better Tomorrow - 8/11/20


It’s been said that You Learn Perseverance by Persevering.  You are becoming mentally tougher right now.  The pain and the difficulties and the change today are making you stronger for dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re all having to be more flexible.  We are all facing less consistency, less Read more

Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19


What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect. No Communication = No Connection If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we Read more

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, 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.