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

Service, Sports, and Self-Control – 10/29/19

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When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every other shot, every other hole, was an emotional challenge. My attitude suffered, and my score suffered.

These days, I rarely play golf, but when I do there is so much less negative emotion involved after every mistake or every missed shot. Even though I miss-hit a lot more shots than I did when I was playing and practicing, one bad shot does not automatically lead to another. One bad hole does not automatically lead to another.

The difference is partly attitude, but it is also self-control. Self-control has a huge effect on an employee’s success in customer service as well.

It’s very difficult to talk to people via the web, via the phone, face-to-face, and via text, and to be consistently good if we allow one bad encounter to get to us. In customer service, it’s difficult to deal with the angry customers (and the occasional crazy customer!) if we allow that interaction or that one word or just that person’s “way” to influence what we do the rest of the day.

Self-control means making sure that we are listening to our bodies and monitoring our thoughts in these difficult circumstances. It means trying to stay loose and open mentally and physically despite the tension that surrounds us.

Having self-control is about controlling our emotions, being able to get through our initial reactions and – instead –respond in a way that is not knee-jerk. Having self-control means talking positively to ourselves when we’re getting ready to go into difficult meetings or hop on calls with customers who we know have issues. That level of self-control and managing our own emotions will help us to manage our part of the conversation that much better.

The idea is that bad stuff is going to happen in the business world just like I’m going to hit the shot out-of-bounds or I’m going to miss a 2-foot putt in golf. But if you have self-control, bad circumstances do not frustrate you as much. When you do something wrong, you’re not is likely to get angry with yourself, and when bad things happen at one point, you’re less likely to allow those situations to snowball throughout the remainder of your day.

Get in the habit of doing some self-monitoring of your thoughts and emotions so that you have the self-control you need to not let one bad apple or one bad encounter lead you into a bad day.

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What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time – 10/22/19

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Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it sincerely: I want to be respectful of your time.

Time is a valuable commodity. In this world that we live in, people are often so busy, they feel like they don’t have time, and maybe they truly don’t in that moment. One thing is for sure, whether people truly have time or not, they don’t want to feel like their time is being wasted. So, as someone who works in customer service, how do you respect someone’s time?

Look at it through the lens of the acronym BDA. BDA stands for Before, During, and After.

When you first engage a customer, thank them for the time they spent Before they got to you. Particularly if this is a follow-up question or request of theirs, or if they drove to your location, say Thanks for coming in! Show appreciation for what they went through prior to coming to you. Oftentimes you’re having a 2-minute conversation face-to-face with somebody who’s already accessed your website, called your co-worker, driven through rain and snow and gloom of night, and waited in line just to see you.

During refers to the conversation itself. Try to be as efficient as possible in meeting that customer’s needs; early on confirm how much time the customer has so that you know if they have 2 minutes or 20 minutes to sit with you. By understanding what’s going on in their mind from a time perspective – by knowing whether they are rushed or relaxed – you can best value their time in that interaction.

After refers to thinking about what’s going to happen next. If they have a next step that they need to take, or if there’s going to be some delay in your follow-up because of some internal process or communication or decision that needs to be made, let them know that you appreciate the forms they will be filling out. Let them know you appreciate their patience as they wait for an answer or resolution to their question.

To show that you value someone’s time, to be respectful of someone’s time, engage the customer with your understanding of what time they put into this interaction Before, During, and After.

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Be the Director of First Impressions – 10/15/19

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Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we care about you.”

An office leasing firm had a receptionist in the lobby whose title was “Director of First Impressions.” This was the company’s way of saying to the customer “this is what you should expect,” but it was also the organization’s way of setting an expectation of the receptionist of what should be her behaviors. It was a way of saying “YOU are the first impression that customers have of our company.”

Wow! Talk about a big responsibility! That employee wasn’t directing others to make a first impression. She WAS the first impression. And the first impression was of someone who greeted you immediately, who smiled, who quickly addressed your need, who adeptly managed callers, walk-ins, and customers alike. She kept communication going with people who waited, and she kept the flow of people and work going.

Therefore, the people who interacted with her had an impression about the company that it was focused on the customer, engaged, cared about meeting the customer’s need, generally happy, responsive, and organized.

So where do your customers get their first impressions?

Are you making positive impressions in the minds of customers? Are you setting high expectations of employees?

Create your customers’ expectations and set your expectations of employees by defining what a fantastic first impression looks like.

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