Customer Service Tip of the Week

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Serve with Integrity – 11/19/19

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I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally did a double-take on the pages, because my company’s Core Values are respect, honesty, fairness, and integrity. Yes, the order is different, but the values are the exact same!

Maybe it’s a crazy coincidence, or maybe it’s that these are just really good values for any organization to have that truly wants to care about its team members and its customers.

Among those values, the one I want to discuss is integrity. Integrity is an important word, but it’s not always the most easily understood word. There was even a commercial a few years back where elementary school children were talking about the importance of integrity and defining it in their own words.

The way the CEO whose book I’m reading defined it was: Doing the right thing in all circumstances. It includes doing what we say we will do.

The way my company defines it is: Uncompromising adherence to moral and ethical principles.

Those definitions are not the exact same, but they don’t necessarily conflict either. The point is that we will be ethical. We will do what we say we will do. And we’re consistent about it.

My company uses the word “uncompromising.” The CEO of the service company uses the phrase “in all circumstances.”

The reason why this is important is not just because it is the right thing to do and the right way to treat other people, but it implies consistency. And where there is consistency in taking action that you stated you would take, where there is consistency in doing what is fundamentally right – the ethical thing – then you build trust.

In the long-term, you don’t want to work with somebody you cannot trust. Employees will not follow a leader they cannot trust. Customers will not stay with companies which they cannot trust.

To build lasting relationships, ensure that integrity is one of your Core Values.

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Bring Out the Best – 11/12/19

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As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs to be done differently, better, or more or less frequently in order to achieve the best outcomes possible.

I’ll never forget the first project that I led well over 20 years ago. My boss congratulated me on the great work. And then he said: Ed, when you’re pointing out everything that needs to improve, make sure you’re balancing it with what’s done well. Even when people need to change, they want to feel good about the things they’re doing that need to continue.

Is not that the tone of the report was negative. It’s just that there was no balance. I was pointing out what needed to be improved to try to achieve the best outcomes, but they also need to know what they’re doing great – that which needs to continue to achieve the best outcomes.

So, when you’re working with a customer, along with sharing details about what they need to do differently, praise them for what they already did well: You’ve done great managing this effort on your own. Now, to make sure that you’re even more successful, here is how we suggest starting to change things for the future.

When you’re talking to a co-worker, if they’ve given you incomplete information, show what else you need, but thank them for what they already provided: There’s some great information on this form! I just need a few more items so that we can move forward.

And when you’re speaking to yourself, make sure all the self-talk isn’t critical on what you did wrong and what you need to improve. Give yourself the occasional pat on the back for what you did right: That was a great call! I really got along well with the client, we were both pleased with how it ended and what the next steps were, and I could tell they were very comfortable, very confident, and they felt really good, too!

When you’re trying to improve, make sure you are clearly stating what’s already working well and what needs to continue so that improvement can be done from a positive perspective.

Identify what needs to be done better or differently, but do it in a way that brings out the best.

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Know What You Don’t Know – 11/5/19

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Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions.

In the world of customer service, basing actions on assumptions is a risk we shouldn’t take, and it’s a risk we do not need to take either.  Taking action is work. Taking action also requires a customer’s time and almost always has some kind of an impact on the customer.  So before we take an action, let’s make sure we know what we need to know.

When responding to a customer need, briefly in your mind run through a mental checklist.  Run through the 5 W’s:  Do you know the Who, What, When, Where, and Why?  If not, these are questions you can ask the customer to give you the information you need before you take action:

  • Who – The name of the person with the need or those involved in the request.
    • Can I get your name, please?
    • Who needs this service?
    • Can I get the name of the person needing this item?
    • To whom am I speaking?
  • What – A description of what they want done.
    • Which service do you need?
    • What would you like done?
    • Which item are we discussing?
  • When – A common understanding of timeframe – when it’s needed.
    • By when do you need this done?
    • When do you need to receive this item?
    • What date are you considering?
  • Where – The location where something needs to take place.
    • Where does this need to be held?
    • Where are you located?
    • To where does this need to be delivered?
  • Why – An understanding of the other person’s goal.
    • What are you hoping to accomplish?
    • What’s your ultimate goal?
    • Can you help me understand the result you’re looking to achieve?

Before you take action for the customer, first know what you don’t know.  Then get to know what you need to know to address the need right the first time.

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