Customer Service Tip of the Week

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Using I, We, or You in Customer Service - 9/1/20


It’s amazing how many conversations can go horribly wrong or incredibly right, not because of the use of a 4-letter word, but simply because of the use of a 1, 2, or 3-letter word – I, We, You. The incorrect use of I, We, You in conversations causes problems more Read more

Get Your Guru On - 8/25/20


You may have heard of management gurus - these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior. And so Read more

Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right - 8/18/20


This is a famous Henry Ford quote, and the quote is all about self-belief, all about confidence. We’ve often spoken about the need to be confident and how to gain confidence, because that confidence - or the lack thereof - is imparted on the customer. But how does a customer tell Read more

Grind it out Today for a Better Tomorrow - 8/11/20


It’s been said that You Learn Perseverance by Persevering.  You are becoming mentally tougher right now.  The pain and the difficulties and the change today are making you stronger for dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re all having to be more flexible.  We are all facing less consistency, less Read more

Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19


What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect. No Communication = No Connection If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we Read more

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID – 6/23/20

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A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified – Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication.

When you hear something like this – that individuals working remotely are often lonely or struggling with effective communication and collaboration – you start to wonder how communications can be more effective, how collaboration can occur, and how feelings of loneliness and isolation can be overcome.

As I was thinking about the root causes of these issues and possible solutions, I remembered the Customer Service Standards that one of our education industry clients implemented. We helped to design these Standards based on their desired organizational culture, and I wanted to share them with you.

Paraphrased below are some of the Standards. They are worded as actions, but they are also individual commitments. Review them, and see how you can tangibly address them to care for yourself and your co-workers:

  • I will communicate with others so they feel valued and important. I will actively listen to them and convey my understanding, communicating in a clear, concise, and complete manner.
  • I will acknowledge communications from others in a timely manner and manage expectations for next steps; I will then address the need in a time that meets or exceeds their expectations.
  • I will engage with others around common goals, building mutual trust and loyalty as we move together toward solutions.
  • I will work with others, proactively sharing information and ideas to support the achievement of collective goals.

 

These all relate to communication, collaboration, being proactive, and being responsive. They revolve around a theme of empathy and caring for others. And if utilized, they may help to overcome the loneliness of others…and ourselves.

Apply these Standards to Care for Co-workers during COVID.

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React, Reflect, Respond – 6/16/20

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Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react.

I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world that you wouldn’t expect. They are dealing with rude and obnoxious customers, odd situations, and complaints they didn’t cause. The topic and the person that they’re having to deal with can change literally minute-by-minute.

And through it all, these customer service stars try to be caring to that other person. They try to be selfless. They try to balance the company, the customer, and the co-worker.

But even customer service stars aren’t perfect, and they should not expect themselves to be perfect.

We’re all human, and we all react. The difference between people who are truly great in customer service and those who are simply in a customer service job is that those who are great may follow-up that natural reaction with reflection and a response based on that reflection.

The reflection involves understanding the situation, quickly understanding your own role, and then trying to create empathy in the moment for that other individual. The reflection is looking back on the similar experiences you have encountered in the past, the training you’ve received, and identifying the best ways to handle this unique situation.

That reflection is followed in the response – one where the combination of body language and tone of voice and the words you use and how you engage others is done in a thoughtful, professional, and solution-oriented manner.

Those who are great in customer service react naturally. We all do because we’re all human. But those who are dealing with these trying situations and these challenging customers are great at not letting that reaction continue unabated through the conversation. Reflection leading to a thoughtful response is what separates the good from the great.

React, Reflect, Respond.

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Serving the Technology-challenged Customer – 6/9/20

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The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, the customer got back on the phone and said, “Sorry about that; two of my windows were easy to open, but the third was painted shut.”

This is a true story, it came out of training we conducted almost 20 years ago, and in many ways it applies today, as well.

Not every customer grew up with technology, and not every customer loves or is naturally wired to work with technology. Especially in this age where so many are working remotely and we have a need to provide customer service remotely, we need to understand if the person we’re talking to is technology-challenged.

These people are as smart or smarter than any of us, but maybe they just have a different communication preference or a different background or a different level of experience and comfort with technology. To address these unique individuals, here are three key areas of focus.

Patience – First, it’s about our way of interacting with people. We need to be very patient and very empathetic/understanding, as well. A little bit of levity and laughter is always good when done appropriately. Keep in mind that we’re trying to create comfort with this person and reduce their anxiety, and the more patient and understanding we are in the words we say and the tone we use, the more comfortable they will become.

Phrases – Second, effective communication in these situations is based on understanding the importance of words. Even “windows” does not mean the same thing to everybody. Try to avoid the acronyms. Try to understand that simplicity is vital. Does “application” mean the same thing to everybody? What does it mean to “click on” something? Think about keeping things Short, Simple, and Summarized, so that they understand. And if you feel they don’t understand, ask them their understanding of what they see, should be seeing, or should be doing.

Process Steps – Third, don’t move through multiple steps quickly. Always end one step by confirming where they are before going on to step two. End each step with a clarification question if there’s any doubt about where they are at that point.

If we want to deliver great customer service, let’s tailor the process of delivering that customer service to the individual we are speaking with at the time.

Let’s provide great customer service in this technology world, particularly to the technology-challenged customer.

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