Customer Service Tip of the Week

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! – 2/19/19

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The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment.

Staring at the screen, the clerk confirmed the insurance was still valid and the address was still the same. After Frannie confirmed, the representative, still staring at the computer screen said “feel free to have a seat over there in the lobby.” So, Frannie went over to the lobby, and she sat down.

This is similar to interactions that happen millions of times every day at American businesses, and this is emblematic of interactions that happen millions of times every day which are NOT GOOD.

The only semblance of eye contact was when the clerk looked toward the line 20 feet away and yelled “next in line!” The clerk was dutifully doing her job, entering or confirming the right data. She got the facts right, she completed the transaction, and she told the customer where to go!

Frannie, meanwhile, was a proverbial cog in the assembly line. She was moved from place to place to place with all the warmth and attention and appreciation that one would expect from a conveyor belt.

After Frannie sat in the waiting area, she looked around and noticed that there were 4 different waiting areas with small signs to signify waiting areas A, B, C, and D. She assumed she was in the right area, but it was unclear to her. She was a tiny bit confused and a little bit irritated at the lack of anything positive. The longer she waited – 5, 10, 15 minutes past her appointment time – the more irritated she got. She also wondered if she was in the right waiting area. She saw patient after patient who checked in after her get called ahead of her.

She was getting hot, frustrated, and her question about the delay was turning into a complaint about the experience. Before her emotions got the better of her, her name was called.

The whole time, Frannie kept thinking that if the clerk had only looked up during the conversation, made eye contact a few times, smiled, and been more clear about the potential wait time and about the location of the waiting room, expectations that Frannie had would’ve been more reasonable; her perception of the experience would have been much more positive.

When you’re face-to-face with the customer, no matter how important that computer screen is or that paperwork may be, look up, or look out!

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Know the Customer’s Value Proposition – 2/12/19

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I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a financial advisor to arrange a meeting with a customer, the teller notes how his co-worker has helped many other customers with a similar need. When the pro sports sales representative hands off a new account to their service specialist, he notes how responsive the service rep is to his clients.

While these are all great examples on how to build up a co-worker in the mind of a customer, it’s even more important at times to have that same positive talk about the customer themselves.

Customers want to feel valued, like their purchase decisions and their dollars are important to the organization. Even more than that, they want to feel like they themselves are important to you and your company. You obviously can do that by providing great customer service. You can also do that by finding ways to tell them how much you value them. Everything I’m about to suggest obviously needs to be done with sincerity, so don’t say it if you don’t believe it:

  • Let the customer know when they’ve asked a great question.
  • Tell them when you agree with the option they selected.
  • Convey appreciation for bringing an issue to your attention so that other customers won’t have to face the same issue.
  • Thank them for coming all the way into your office to chat with you.
  • Thank them for their time and their patience.
  • Ask them for their ideas and their guidance, and then give them credit when you think one of those great ideas will work.
  • When they fill out the paperwork correctly, let them know they did a great job.
  • When they give you thorough answers, let them know you appreciate all the detailed information.
  • When they answer your series of questions to give you the information you need to address their need, thank them for all the responses.

 

Your customers are part of the service process. Their effective and complete participation is valuable to you. Let them know when and how they provide value to the process so that they feel valued by you.

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition.

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Paint a Picture, Take a Picture – 2/5/19

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Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t mean simply providing detailed instructions line by line. What I do mean is literally seeing a picture.

Many times over the years, I’ve been trying to describe a strategy, process, or some key steps to a client that they need to take to be successful in whatever topic we’re discussing. And at some point, it’s clear that they’re getting part of what I’m suggesting but not all of it. So, I will either take out my computer tablet or a sheet of paper, and I will draw a simple diagram. Then their eyes light up! They understand the concept, and they often ask if they can keep that piece of paper or ask if I can send them a softcopy of what I wrote on my computer screen.

For many of us, when we hear hundreds of words mesh together to describe a series of next steps or a process, the words blur. We either lose focus, or there is a particular step or phrase that diverts our concentration. To avoid this when working with customers, we need to move those hundreds of steps to a simple graphic of 3-5 connected boxes. It simplifies it for those of us who are visual.

Take a Picture to Jog their Memory
Just as in the example that I shared where they asked to keep my sheet of paper, think about your pre-printed documents – maybe it’s the procedures on a wall poster. Maybe it is a hardcopy document that you were viewing with the customer about a contract, a policy, an agreement, or a process. Don’t expect people to remember what we say no matter how wonderfully we explain it.

Have them take a picture of it with their phone or give them a QR code so that they can go to the exact URL using their phone camera. Make sure that this visual representation that you provided to them is something that they can take with them to remember and refer back to in the future.

When having a conversation with a customer, gauge how well they’re understanding what you’re conveying.

When needed, paint a picture, and – so they remember – let them take a picture.

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