Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step – 3/5/19

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This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time.

But what’s the First Step? To answer this question, think about the first step in developing a relationship with anyone – a friend, a co-worker, or anybody else that pops to mind. If the goal is to have a relationship with somebody, we’re not talking about JUST what to do in that instance or that one encounter. We’re talking about how to begin the process of communication and conversation that is going to occur over time. It’s about going beneath the surface to go from chit-chat to rapport to relationship.

Regardless of what event or phone call, what meeting or issue or question created this first encounter, the first real step in creating the customer for life, creating that relationship, is beginning to know the other person.

Who are they? What do they care about? What are their priorities? Who are their friends and family members? Even, what are their values or those things that factor into their decisions?

When you’re thinking about creating that customer for life, before you ever engage anybody, identify what are those things you really want to and need to know about the other person to form a relationship. Write those questions down.

Make some of them a part of every engagement, where you’re not just reacting to them or sharing information with them, but your inquisitiveness and your questions convey that you care enough about them to get to know them a little bit better every time you communicate.

To create a customer for life, take the first step. Know what you need to know.

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Retrain Your Brain – 2/26/19

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Admit it. You thought about it. You thought:

Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using their phone? Is this customer crazy? I’ve told them 3 times what they need to do to buy this ticket, and they still can’t figure it out!

Sometimes our customers seem crazy. Sometimes they don’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes what they do or don’t do makes little sense to us. But the reason why we feel that way is often based on looking at things through our lens instead of their lens. Maybe it’s our hundreds and hundreds of similar experiences with similar customers that can leave us jaded, with a negative perspective of our customers.

To deliver a positive customer service experience, we need to have a positive mindset of our customers. But how do we reframe our mental picture of the customer? How do we retrain our brains to look at them and their situations differently?

Creating a Positive Habit
If it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, then we’re going to give you some intentional questions to ask yourself day after day if you find yourself rolling your eyes about your customers or viewing them in a negative light:

  • Instead of focusing on what the customer did wrong, ask yourself: What did the customer do right?
  • Instead of thinking a process is so simple, ask yourself: Was this a piece of cake the first time it was explained to me?
  • Instead of getting frustrated for having to explain steps multiple times, stop and ask yourself: Can the customer explain this to me? By asking the customer to walk you through the steps this time, you can figure out what they understand and what they don’t understand.

 

These are the 3 questions to ask yourself when you feel that frustration boiling or those eyes rolling: What did the customer do right? Was this a piece of cake the first time it was explained to me? Can the customer explain this to me?

What you’re doing with these 3 simple questions is you’re (1) Thinking about something positive the customer has done (2) Trying to be a little empathetic, and (3) Better understanding your customer by becoming more of a listener, less of a talker.

Retrain your brain to reframe your picture of your customers.

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Look Up, or Look Out! – 2/19/19

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The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment.

Staring at the screen, the clerk confirmed the insurance was still valid and the address was still the same. After Frannie confirmed, the representative, still staring at the computer screen said “feel free to have a seat over there in the lobby.” So, Frannie went over to the lobby, and she sat down.

This is similar to interactions that happen millions of times every day at American businesses, and this is emblematic of interactions that happen millions of times every day which are NOT GOOD.

The only semblance of eye contact was when the clerk looked toward the line 20 feet away and yelled “next in line!” The clerk was dutifully doing her job, entering or confirming the right data. She got the facts right, she completed the transaction, and she told the customer where to go!

Frannie, meanwhile, was a proverbial cog in the assembly line. She was moved from place to place to place with all the warmth and attention and appreciation that one would expect from a conveyor belt.

After Frannie sat in the waiting area, she looked around and noticed that there were 4 different waiting areas with small signs to signify waiting areas A, B, C, and D. She assumed she was in the right area, but it was unclear to her. She was a tiny bit confused and a little bit irritated at the lack of anything positive. The longer she waited – 5, 10, 15 minutes past her appointment time – the more irritated she got. She also wondered if she was in the right waiting area. She saw patient after patient who checked in after her get called ahead of her.

She was getting hot, frustrated, and her question about the delay was turning into a complaint about the experience. Before her emotions got the better of her, her name was called.

The whole time, Frannie kept thinking that if the clerk had only looked up during the conversation, made eye contact a few times, smiled, and been more clear about the potential wait time and about the location of the waiting room, expectations that Frannie had would’ve been more reasonable; her perception of the experience would have been much more positive.

When you’re face-to-face with the customer, no matter how important that computer screen is or that paperwork may be, look up, or look out!

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