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

A Tale of Two Minutes and Two Employees – 8/20/13 TOW

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Needing a water filter for my fridge, I walked into a home improvement store. Now this is a chain that I’ve been in probably over 100 times, but this particular store was new to me – it was on my way home – so out of convenience, I stopped.

As I entered the store, there was an employee (think “Wal-Mart greeter”) about 15 feet ahead of me standing by herself. She didn’t look my way or smile – in other words, the greeter didn’t greet. I didn’t know where to get the filter, so I walked up to her and initiated the conversation. I told her what I needed, and as she was pausing/thinking, I noticed the Appliances section at end of store. “Is it down there?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s where they are.” She didn’t say anything else, so I thanked her and moved on. Now keep in mind that this is an ENORMOUS store, and the Appliances section had to be a good 4000-5000 square feet, so the search process took a while once I got there.

Now juxtapose that experience to my experience with the cashier. As I walked up, he was smiling with the couple that was ahead of me in line. He greeted me pleasantly, smiled the whole time we talked, took the gift card I was using for the purchase saying “That’s great that you get to use a gift card!” and closed by asking if there was anything else he could do and inviting me to come again.

Despite only being with the two employees a total of about two minutes, one can draw several conclusions:

  • This store doesn’t put much weight on customer service-orientation when hiring; if so, the greeter would not have been hired.
  • The level of customer service is based too much on which employee is helping you as opposed to an organization intentionally trying to create a culture of customer service.
  • Store management is not customer service-focused; if they were, they wouldn’t have put a “greeter” with that demeanor up front.
  • They have not conducted (and/or reinforced) effective customer service training (the greeter wasn’t specific on where I should go in the Appliances section, she didn’t offer to walk me there, she didn’t have positive body language, didn’t open, and didn’t close the conversation).

You can tell a lot about an organization in two minutes with two employees, so compare yourself to co-workers in terms of how you address customers.

Learn from your differences to improve your customer service.

 


Convey Compassion in Customer Service – 8/13/13 TOW

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The hospital promoted the 3 C’s: Compassionate Competent Care. The Care was what they provided – patient care, clinical care. Competent denoted that there was quality to what they provided. Compassionate signified. . .well. . .compassion.

So what is “Compassion” in customer service, and how does it apply even outside of healthcare?

There are several definitions of compassion, but the overriding one that applies to customer service is “sympathy, empathy, and concern for others, particularly for their issues or misfortune.” Customers want you to care for them, particularly when they’re in a tough situation. So you want to be compassionate.

Based on this definition of compassion, ask yourself a few questions. Are you aware of the customer’s issues? Are you understanding of their misfortunes? And just as importantly, how do you convey your understanding and concern?

There are ways to convey compassion with your words/phrases. Use these words frequently in dialogue with the customer to convey compassion for their issue/misfortune:

  • “Your issue” or “Your concern”
  • “You” used in a personal reference
  • “I understand”
  • “I care”
  • “I’m sorry”
  • “I’m concerned.”

What aspects of body language and tone of voice convey compassion?

  • Offer a gentle touch on the back or shoulder
  • Provide eye contact
  • Periodically nod your head
  • Acknowledge/engage the customer and their family/friends
  • Sit/kneel to customer’s eye level
  • Lean toward the customer rather than away or toward the door
  • Use a more quiet tone
  • Avoid utterances while customer is talking.

To be compassionate, use the words and non-verbal communications that convey you care.

Convey Compassion in Customer Service.

 


Build Up Your Peers to Better the Customer Experience – 8/6/13 TOW

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In developing relationships with our clients, rarely are we truly alone. Maybe for an instant or an interaction it’s just us and the customer. But if we look longer term (a patient stay in a hospital, an account holder for a sports team, a client for a bank, a taxpayer for a municipality), those customer relationships involve many employees working together for that customer.

And in most organizations, individual good experiences don’t necessarily mean an overall good experience or lasting relationships. Sometimes the difference between Good and Great in the customer experience is driven by the handoffs between the different areas and staff. So this brings up three key questions with some quick tips noted below:

How can we ensure the NEXT employee is prepared to receive the customer prior to the “handoff?”

  • Communicate between different areas of the organization about a customer and the handoff about to take place so the second employee anticipates and looks for the customer
  • Bring specifics into the equation (offer background on the customer to the co-worker) – ensure the next employee can pick up on one fact about the customer so the customer feels that the handoff was made effectively
  • Use names of co-workers when talking with customers about the next step to personalize the discussion and humanize the process
  • Show you care about your fellow staff member in front of the customer; have a pleasant, informal dialogue with your peer so that the environment is positive and professional.

How can we “build up” the NEXT employee in the customer’s mind?

  • Compliment the next staff member in front of the customer; this helps to create rapport and reduce customer anxiety about the process or the person
  • Use descriptive language to describe the next staff member – “they’re energetic, successful, friendly, etc.”
  • Address the credentials or experience of the next employee – “they’ve helped many people in similar situations to yours…they’ve been with us for 5 years…, etc.”

How can we check-in on the customer’s experience with the PRIOR employee?

  • Ask how the process has gone so far – possibly use open-ended questions to gauge their perception of the experience
  • Ask the customer how the interaction went with the prior employee; reinforce any positives they convey; offer empathy for any concerns they voice, and offer to follow-up on any issues, if appropriate.

Moving from a Good to Great customer experience can require employees to set co-workers up for success.

Enable the other employee to succeed to enhance the customer experience.