Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


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 Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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

I want to be an Astronaut – 9/10/19

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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 so, I’m not sure how similar or different the answers may be from my childhood experiences. But when the question is asked, the child is basically stating what he or she wants to become. It is sharing their vision of their future.

And once a child – or anyone of us for that matter – identifies a vision, then we can start charting the course to get there. It makes no sense to chart a course to nowhere.

It’s the same thing in the world of business and in the world of customer service. We need to start with the vision.

What do we want to become or achieve as an organization or as an individual? What is our vision for the great customer experience that we’re going to deliver to our clients, and is that their vision as well?

If the vision for the great customer experience is going to help us to achieve our overall vision, then the next step is to ask: What’s our vision for the desired culture? In theory, the culture of an organization is set up to help the organization succeed, so that culture should help to deliver a great experience, it should help to deliver on the organization’s vision!

And what is culture? It is how we do things around here. It’s how we talk to each other, how we work together, how we make decisions together, how we serve each other and serve others together.

Take a few minutes individually or as an organization and just pause. Make sure that you have a clearly articulated vision. Then work back to make sure that you know what your role is and what you need to be in order to move yourself and your organization toward that vision.

Envision the future to become the future.

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Don’t Mistake Kindness – 9/3/19

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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 him to do things that they can do themselves. Sometimes they will ask him to do some work at their house in the late afternoon or evening for a couple hours after he’s already worked a full day at his own job.

At times like this, he occasionally vents to me, and the phrase he uses is “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.” His point is that – just because I’m good to you and kind and courteous, doesn’t mean I’m a weak person.

I agree with that statement wholeheartedly! For those of us in customer service, we try to be kind to others. We try to be helpful to others. We are in the business of serving others, so we want to do what will help the customer or the co-worker. That being kind and considerate and courteous has nothing to do with weakness. Being selfless or caring or compassionate should not suggest to people that they can take advantage or walk over us.

It’s a personal and professional strength to be empathetic enough to understand others. It is a strength to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous complaints and unrealistic expectations and irrational actions of others, and to be able to handle it in a professional way that moves that conversation along, gets to a resolution, and creates some closure.

It takes a strong person to succeed in service.

So, don’t view your positive and selfless and kind qualities as a weakness, because if you view it as a weakness, you know that the other person will view it as a weakness. Realize that it’s your strength, and it’s not an excuse to allow others to take advantage of your good nature or your good deeds.

Don’t allow others to mistake your kindness for weakness. Believe in the strength that you have to be good and do good for others.

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

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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 universities, most of those organizations of higher education also have the mindset that they have to help their students grow, mature, develop over their time in school. It’s important to put the responsibility and the resulting accountability on the student so that they take ownership over the action, and they can do it on their own in the future. By helping them to develop some independence, in the long run it is actually saving time for the university personnel as well.

Think about using this approach with your customers, particularly if you deal with repeat customers. These might be land designers who have to submit multiple plans to a local government to develop some property. These might be season ticket holders for a professional sports organization who need to learn how to manage their tickets on their own. This could be patients in a hospital who need to be able to understand their discharge instructions and provide good self-care after they’ve left the facility.

So there is a line of demarcation. You want to have the attitude and the willingness to do ANYTHING for the customer, but it’s rarely the best long-term approach to do EVERYTHING for the customer.

Think about those things that they are well-equipped to do or that they’re going to need to do multiple times in the future. Think about how independent they want to be or need to be. Think about their desire to easily do something and to have the comfort and confidence to be able to take that action.

When you’re considering your approach to customer service, do anything, but not everything.

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