Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? – 6/11/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard.

You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put into a position to make decisions. Those decisions lead us down Path A or Path B. Those decisions make our life easier or harder. Those decisions help the bottom line or hurt the bottom line. And those decisions make the customer happy or upset.

What makes those decisions so hard is that one decision might help the bottom line but make the customer upset. Another decision might make your life harder but make the customer happy.

I’m not in your shoes, so I cannot tell you what decision to make. Each one of you makes hundreds of decisions each week at work and in your personal life. Neither you nor I can anticipate every situation that you’ll be presented with or every question you’ll have to consider.

But what will make your work-related decisions easier is to at least have a starting point. Even before you’re presented with a situation, know and document the principles that will guide your decision-making.

Here are some key principles to consider in your decision-making processes if your job is customer service related: Be ethical. Do what’s best for the customer now. Do what helps the organization long-term.

These might seem short and simple, but it’s amazing how the appropriate decision becomes much clearer if each alternative is tested against these principles.

What principles guide your decision-making at work? Know them, write them down, and remember them.

The next time you make a decision, let your principles be your guide.

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You Do Know Jack – 6/4/19

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Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.”

Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent and not intended to convey indifference, the customer could walk away feeling negatively. Here are some of those actions to be wary of when Jack’s engaged with a customer…

Jack knows the answer to the question, so Jack interjects while the customer’s talking….or…maybe Jack quickly ends the conversation after providing an answer (but before he confirmed they got their need met)….or…Jack might talk exceptionally fast to the customer. These could all be innocent actions, but they could all convey that Jack’s impatient. Jack’s rushing the customer. Jack’s trying to get to the next call or move this customer along.

When the customer makes a complaint, Jack makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that he is not the one responsible. He knows that others were involved with that issue, and he was NOT part of the situation. These may all be facts, but what they do is they focus the conversation on who’s to blame and the fact that Jack’s DEFINITELY NOT to blame. In the end, the customer is usually complaining because they have an issue and they want a solution. Jack’s moved the focus to one of absolving himself of responsibility instead of focusing on the customer and their solution.

Finally, Jack gets a request through e-mail or social media, via the website or the phone. It’s obvious this is a request that another area of the organization handles. So, Jack tells the customer that they will need to call the other department or go to the website to find the answer. What Jack’s suggesting is accurate, but it’s not entirely helpful. The customer will think Jack cares more about getting back to “his work” than connecting the customer to the right person or getting to the specific answer.

Do you know Jack? If so, I’m sorry. Overcome the perception that you’re indifferent by not being like Jack.

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How to Give the Right Kind of “No” – 5/28/19

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In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our co-workers are not perfect, and our solutions to customer issues are rarely perfect.

The customer wants you to fix their issue or address their need, and often they are telling you HOW you should fix that issue or address that need. Frequently, their solutions won’t work. You can’t always waive a policy, change a process, or do something in 5 minutes that takes 5 days. You have to say No.

But there are ways to say No that are giving the right kind of No. Here are 3 quick steps to consider:

Convey Why the No: Before you say No to their solution, make sure they understand WHY their idea won’t work. In a professional way, explain the rationale so they understand it’s not a matter of you being obstinate. There’s an objectivity to your response.

Link Your Solution to Their Goal: They may suggest a certain process, but what is their goal? They may want something done, but what is their goal? They may say they want it in 5 minutes, but what is their goal? Their goal may be having a great event, getting a remedy before they hold a meeting, having a working product, getting financing for a house, or feeling better. If you can understand their desired outcome and get them to think about the goal instead of the solution, then you can link your solution to their goal.

Offer the Options: Finally, suggest alternatives that achieve their goal. Particularly if you can offer more than one solution, it gives them some control over deciding the next step. Even if there’s only one solution, by attaching it to their goal, they’re envisioning the eventual success.

Taking this approach will keep the temperature of the conversation low, put you in control, and lead to more productive and positive conversations.

Give the right kind of “No” response.

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