Customer Service Tip of the Week

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity – 8/6/19

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Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer.

When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like I’ve completed a process, when in reality I’ve only gotten through the first step. I hate coming to the end of the first step and finding that there’s a second step, getting to the end of the second step, and only then finding that there’s a third step. It would be so much better to just know all the steps, the entire timeframe, and what I need to do from the start to make all these steps go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Again, I’m talking from the perspective of the customer. Whether it is talking to account representative about some new service or talking to the computer tech helping me deal with a blinking computer screen, I like to know the steps.

In these situations, I am asking a lot of questions, and things I appreciate most about a person are (1) The specific responses conveyed with knowledge and experience as well as (2) Patience.

Customer Frustrations
It bothers me to no end when I feel like the person is rushing through the conversation. It’s frustrating when they’re making the process sound like it’s not that big a deal; it probably isn’t a big deal to them since they’ve dealt with it 100 times, but it is a big deal to me, the customer. It’s frustrating when they talk fast or make statements unrelated to my need because they didn’t ask questions about what’s unique about my situation.

Avoiding their Frustrations
So, what is not frustrating? What is positive? Knowledge and experience conveyed in specific responses…and patience. When you’re dealing with somebody who’s about to go through a series of steps, convey these attributes.

Be patient. Think about your body language. Avoid interrupting. Breathe a few times to slow yourself down. Ask them questions to understand their situation so you don’t have to talk about the 5 different paths something might take if it’s obvious this process is going to go down 1 path for this 1 unique customer’s 1 situation.

Let your patience result in a positive customer experience.

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Back to Reality…for Customer Expectations – 7/30/19

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Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?”

Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is ‘X’ minutes?”

Have you ever begun the process of getting a permit to build a deck on a home and been given a form that says what each step in the process involves, when you need to do each step (including inspections), and whom you need to contact?

You may reply “no” to all of these or “yes” to some, but these are examples of companies who understand the importance of trying to set or manage customer expectations. These companies understand that that first person may complain after waiting 5 minutes if they don’t realize that a 15-minute wait is realistic. These companies realize that that second customer may get irate or take their business elsewhere if they had to wait on the phone 2 minutes but might be more patient if their expectation is a 3-minute wait. These companies understand that a customer educated on a process is more comfortable and less likely to have issues with it, less likely to do things incorrectly.

Companies who attempt to proactively set or manage expectations understand the importance of the customer having some concept in their mind of what the reality is going to be; that makes it more likely that the customer will be satisfied with the experience, and the employee won’t have to deal with an irate customer.

Where can your company proactively set an expectation with customers about how long a process will take, how long a wait might be, what actions are about to take place, or what they need to do?

Determine where the opportunities to set expectations exist, and then use signage, messaging, documentation, and direct one-on-one conversations to do whatever you can to set (or reset) your customers’ expectations.

Get customer expectations back to reality.

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For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged – 7/23/19

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The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going to ignore her and not make eye contact and hope somebody else deals with her.

The patient walked into the doctor’s office, and he saw that there was no line. There were 3 receptionists all looking at their computers. He didn’t know which line to go in, so he stood there, and nobody looked up. He then said “Hello” to nobody in particular, and one of the receptionist’s said: Last name.

The season ticket holder had a question about the survey that had just been emailed to her. So, she clicked on the e-mail address in the invitation and sent an e-mail to the research firm. The research firm replied with an answer within the hour. The customer replied right back: Thank you so much for the quick reply! I was actually kind of surprised that you sent an email. Whenever I email the team, they don’t reply unless I am asking for additional seats for a game.

These are 3 stories that happen all too often in business, and they are examples of bad customer service…when there is no customer service. Oftentimes, bad customer service is reflected in what employees do wrong or how a business is set up to make it difficult on the employee to deliver good service.

But many times, it’s the lack of service that is bad customer service. It’s a lack of a response to the e-mail. It’s the lack of the greeting to the patient. And it’s the lack of taking care of an issue caused by other customers, and that issue becomes a bad experience for everybody sitting in that waiting room.

Sometimes the best way to deliver a good experience is simply to show up. Respond to messages. Initiate a conversation with a greeting, a welcome. Address that irate customer before they create an environment that spreads negativity to the other customers.

For excellence to happen, get engaged.

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