Customer Service Tip of the Week

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Never Before… – 8/4/20

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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, companies are fighting to keep customers.  They’re coming up with creative ways to change the customer experience.  They are trying to identify unique opportunities to provide customer service in a way that works best for the customer.

We’re seeing enhanced delivery of services and packages.  We’re seeing the offer from businesses to take products out to customers while they are in the car.  We see employees wearing masks and facilities being sanitized like never before.  We’re seeing acceleration of technology options for customers to browse and to buy and get their questions answered.

But the products themselves remain relatively the same. The services themselves remain relatively the same.  The programs themselves remain relatively the same.

So, what is different?

We’ve always defined customer service as the Attitude (and skills, knowledge) conveyed by employees and the Processes within which the customer experiences the service and the product.  These are the areas where companies are making significant change.  They are improving customer service by improving Attitudes and Processes.

Companies are realizing the importance of retention and the value of the customer more and more, and they are finding different ways to deliver the same product.  They’re more overtly appreciative of the customers they have and those that are taking the steps to stay with the businesses.

There are many lessons learned here, but the one key takeaway is that customer service matters.  Customer service adds value.  Customer service leads to higher retention and sales.  And customer service is about serving the customers in a manner that would work best for the customer.

The keep a customer, find out how to best serve the customer.

Serve like never before.

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Effectively Teach the Customer – 7/28/20

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The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher.  The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student.  In 3rd and 4th place were gestures and smiles, and since we talk a lot about body language, will defer those for now.

So, let’s talk about the top two and how they relate to customer service.  Oftentimes, you are in the role of being a teacher to the customer – particularly in this COVID-19 world where we’re having to do things differently, where customers are having to do things differently, or customers are often having to do things for themselves.  If we want them to retain what we teach, we need to shift some of the past paradigms in the customer service world.

Longer Conversations – First, a short customer conversation may be good for a call center’s handle times, but it’s bad for a customer’s learning.  Increasing our patience, planning for more time with customer encounters, and ensuring customer understanding of processes, activities, and expectations – these actions have the greatest effect on how well the customer learns what we’re teaching them.

Encouragement – Second, it’s not just a matter of conveying the right information and allocating the time to it.  It’s also a matter of encouraging the customer. I know we don’t often think of ourselves as the coach to the player as employees to the customer, but when we are helping them to help themselves and expecting them to do things differently, we need to encourage them just like coaches encourage players.  We need to give them positive feedback just like teachers should with students or – for that matter – we should with each other.

When you find yourself in the role of educating others, allow for longer interactions with customers, and ensure the content is complemented by your encouragement of the customer.

Be a great teacher to your customers.

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Meet on Equal and Even Ground – 7/21/20

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“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service.

We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding of the customer – where they’re at and what their situation is at that time.  Thoreau is referencing the same thing.  For us to be of service to others, we need to try to get on equal ground, even ground.

Where is this other person at this moment?  Is the customer in an emotional state?  Are they upset or angry or anxious?  What did they do to get to this point where they are in front of us or on the phone with us or sending us the e-mail or text?  The answers to these questions provide the “ground.”  We create a common understanding of their current footing and how they got to this place.

But for us to best serve, we must also be equal.  How can we turn that understanding of their ground into creating a position of equality?  We have to think about how we’re speaking to that person.  We have to think about the words that we use based on their situation.  We have to consider how well we listen and how well we portray that we’re listening.  We have to use some of their words when responding in dialogue to them.  We need to reflect their tone or at least a slightly softer tone when they are loud.

To be of best service to someone, understand where they are and how they got there, then consciously try to reflect them.

To best serve others, meet on equal and even ground.

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