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

Re-Invigorate Your Clients – 7/30/13 TOW

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The motivational speaker had his theme for the day – Re-Invigorate Yourself! He said, “In order to Re-Invigorate Yourself, you have to make two assumptions. First, ‘RE’ means you’ve been “Invigorated” in the past so that you can be invigorated again. Second, the idea that you are going to ‘Re-INVIGORATE’ means that you are not currently invigorated. Maybe your life is stale. Your attitude has gone negative. Your perception of yourself or your life has dimmed.”

Whereas this motivational speaker was focusing on how his audience could reinvigorate themselves, one of the attendees had a different twist on the speaker’s points.

Janet was an account representative for a pro sports team, and her focus was applying this concept to her clients.

“How do I determine if my clients are currently invigorated? How can I determine their relationship with my club, their perception of their game time experience, their feelings about the value of their season tickets? How do I determine if my clients are not currently invigorated?”

“Because that lack of passion can turn into apathy, and apathy can result in lost business. And to ‘RE’ invigorate them, I have to determine when they were passionate about our club and their relationship with us. . .and why?”

Sometimes, in order to keep customers for the long-term, we have to take Janet’s perspective. We need to uncover those customers who appear NOT to be enjoying their relationship or experience with us, those that don’t appear happy, seem more apathetic, aren’t responding to messages as quickly or frequently, or aren’t participating in activities as often.

We need to proactively go to them, gain their feedback, and understand why they were excited in the past – and maybe why they’re not so excited today.

Keep in mind that your competitors’ sales people are passionate about taking your customers, so match that passion.

Find customers losing their enthusiasm for your organization, and look for ways to re-invigorate their passions in your business.

 


Don’t (E)-mail It In – 7/23/13 TOW

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In the wonderful world of texting and 140 character Tweets, where the ultra-brief is ultra-in, e-mail in business needs to be viewed as a different animal. It’s different than LOL and OMG. It’s different than #CoolBeans. It’s a business letter. It reflects on your professionalism, intelligence, level of empathy, and communication skills.

Sometimes people get lazy with e-mail; they press “Send” when they really should have called instead. Or they press “Send” without reviewing it, and then miscommunications and hurt feelings result.

So let’s review a quick list of e-mail tips; first the “Do’s.” Do. . .

  • Use the “1 Minute Test;” ask yourself, could someone read this e-mail, and in one minute understand the key points and what they must do? If not, modify it to remove any barriers to the e-mail being read.
  • Use personalized greetings/closings to set a professional/cordial tone.
  • Use it when you need to set clear expectations of what will happen next, and by when.
  • Include your contact information (particularly phone and, if possible, address) in the footer to make it easy for the reader to know how to contact you via other means.
  • Use ALL CAPS only in Header Sections. This can help on longer e-mails or to ensure the reader’s understanding.

Now the “Don’ts.” Do NOT. . .

  • Send without proofing and spell-checking – E-mails riddled with spelling errors can make you and your message lose credibility.
  • Seem defensive, sarcastic, or purely negative – It brings in negative emotion, which is especially risky in written form.
  • Overuse e-mail “shorthand” – It can be misinterpreted by the reader or simply not understood; one client got an e-mail from his boss saying “LOL.” The boss meant “Laugh Out Loud.” The employee thought he meant “Lots of Love.”
  • Write hastily without reviewing for content, tone, ease of reading, etc. – It makes you appear impatient in your e-mail response.
  • Use e-mail as a weapon such as copying the recipient’s supervisor when you have a complaint (particularly if this is the first time you’ve addressed the issue) – It’s unprofessional and weak, and it can break down trust/relationships.
  • Use e-mail when something is urgent – Many people today still do not check e-mail that frequently; phone and face-to-face are better avenues.
  • Use e-mail if at all possible when responding to complaints, particularly where emotions are involved – Negative emotions and e-mail rarely mix well.
  • • Use e-mail when a series of questions are being asked (or comments being shared) back and forth – It’s turned into a conversation at this point; pick up a phone or go visit the person to dialogue instead.

When it comes to professionalism in business writing, don’t (E)-mail it in.

 


When Metrics Mask Reality – 7/16/13 TOW

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Michael has the pleasure of knowing a board member for a nationwide retail chain. Michael thoroughly enjoys knowing this gentleman on a personal level and learning about his perspective on business.

Since Michael has been a customer of the business, one day he decided to ask the board member how the board feels about their company’s customer service. The board member’s response was “Oh! We’re doing great! We just passed our biggest competitor in the national ratings, and our metrics on the store customer service are generally trending up!”

Michael was somewhat astonished at the response, since this company has a reputation for horrible customer service. Since Michael hadn’t been to his local store in a few weeks, he thought that maybe they had improved.

So that weekend, Michael needed to buy a certain type of flower that his wife was requesting – a white wave petunia. Not wanting to make a 20 minute round trip without knowing they had that type of plant, Michael called the store first. After going through 5 menus on the phone system, Michael selected the right option (or so he had hoped) and was transferred to the nursery; he hung up after the phone rang for the 18th time with nobody answering.

He then hopped in his car to go there anyway as it was getting late in the day. When Michael entered the nursery area, he immediately walked up to the cashier and waited behind the only customer in line. Since that conversation was taking several minutes, Michael walked to the flower pots and began looking for the plant. There Michael saw every petunia known to man. . .except a white wave petunia.

So he went back to the cashier, and when the cashier was done helping the customer, Michael asked for help.

“I’m just a cashier,” responded the employee. “I don’t know what those are; why don’t you go ask an employee back in lumber?”

“Where?,” Michael responded.

“Back in the back quadrant over there; they’re over there,” the cashier replied.

Then Michael went to the ‘back quadrant,’ but there were no employees around.

Michael left without a white wave petunia, without a good feeling about the store, and with the definite suspicion that this board member had never shopped at his own stores.

Metrics can look good, but the experience can be bad.

Trust data to a point, but verify what the experience is like in reality. Experience your business like a customer would experience it.