Customer Service Tip of the Week

Reach Out to Customers the Right Way - 3/31/20


Depending on what industry that you work in, business is either booming, or it’s greatly slowed down.  I’m not sure if there’s much of a middle ground these days – where industries are working as normal. If you’re in one of the industries where business has slowed, there may be Read more

LEAD them Away from Anger - 3/24/20


Last week we addressed keeping our personal sanity.  This week, let’s discuss dealing with customer insanity.  That may not be the best choice of words, but many customers are overreacting.  In last week’s Tip, we discussed dealing with emotions of anxiety and nervousness from customers, but many customers are Read more

4 Tips for Personal Sanity in Public Crisis - 3/17/20


We can only control what we can control.  There are times like these where the healthcare world is fighting a quickly-spreading virus, and governmental, business, and other organizations are making changes to try to mitigate risks and find solutions where possible. With all this activity swirling around us, we still Read more

Create Mutually-beneficial Relationships - 3/10/20


We have worked with many clients over the years who have long-term staff in customer service roles.  At some point, the company decides to add a sales component to the responsibilities of the representatives, and the sparks start to fly! I was not hired to sell. This is not in Read more

Predictability Excites these Customers - 3/3/20


Sherrie had used that airport one too many times.  Sure it was convenient to her home, only 20 minutes away, but it seemed like every time she scheduled a flight, there was a delay.  And since it was not a “hub” airport, if she had to fly any significant Read more

Who Loves Ya, Baby? - 2/25/20


Telly Savalas played Kojak - a hard-nosed detective who solved crimes while eating a lollipop.  He was a tough guy with a tough attitude but a soft side.  He used to say:  Who loves ya, baby? So, who loves their customer? If you want to see somebody who loves their Read more

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

Encourage the Customer – 12/17/19

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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 a certain way, but there are things you can do or say that help to engender certain kinds of feelings.  That’s why we talk about conveying appreciation for the customer, so they will hopefully feel valued and important.

You also want customers to feel comfortable with your business and confident in their experience with you.  You want them feeling positively about the relationship.  Much of their perceptions about you and your organization, much of their decision-making about whether to stick with your company is about their feelings.

To build their comfort and confidence, consider encouraging your customers (as well as your co-workers).  Encourage them for what they’ve doneYou’ve made great progress. OR I’m impressed with what you’ve done.

Encourage them for what they will doThanks for moving this forward. OR Thanks for taking leadership on this item.

Encourage them for who they areI appreciate your great attitude and energy. OR I appreciate you bringing so many productive ideas to us!

To engender positive feelings, encourage the customer.

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Hearing is Believing – 12/10/19

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“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 government services, there’s often only one place to go for a particular service – the government.

Residents understand that when there are issues, a local municipality won’t be able to offer a gift card or a 10% discount on the next purchase.  Residents understand that a complaint won’t result in some compensation or possibly even a fix.  So, what do residents want?  Many just want to be heard.

Usually when a resident is venting to me about a government client, when they say that they want to be heard, they’re typically referring to two things:  The attitude and the action.  A listening attitude is conveyed when the employee is focused on them, the employee is patient about the issue, doesn’t interrupt, and is empathetic and understanding about the situation.  Residents want to know you understand what’s unique about them, possibly by stating the situation back to them.  And they want the body language and the tone to reflect that listening orientation.

But being heard also can imply action.  Maybe the employee said all the right things in the right way to the customer, but if the employee does nothing with the information, often residents interpret that inaction as not being heard.

Now, taking action doesn’t necessarily mean resolving the issue.  But at least investigate it further.  Ask a co-worker for advice.  Suggest an alternative solution.  Let them know you’ll share the concern with leaders so that similar situations don’t happen to others.  Tell them what they could do in the future so that the situation won’t arise again.  And if you did something for them, tell them that you did it.  They won’t know you took action until you tell them you did so.

Many complaining customers just want to be heard, and not until they feel that they have been heard do they believe that you care.

Convey you care by conveying you heard them with your attitude and action.

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Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster – 12/3/19

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Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department:

  1. A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.
  2. A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class next week; do you know Meredith?”  The employee says “Oh, I know Meredith; let me get you in touch with Career Development where she works.”
  3. The employee asks the staff person from the other department “do you know what the status is on that work order?”  The other individual responds “I’m trying to get to it as fast as I can; I’ll put a rush job on it for you.”

One reaction to these scenarios is that the person responding is being very proactive.  They are jumping on the request and coming up with a quick solution or next step. Unfortunately, these are conversations where assumptions took place, and each assumption was wrong.

In the first case, the login difficulty had nothing to do with the password.  In the second case, Meredith had worked with IT before and was suggesting that the faculty member contact IT for support.  In the third example, they weren’t looking for a rush on the work order.  They were seeking an update just to make sure it would be done when needed.

Many customer service people are so responsive and so willing to help that they can run to the next step to try to get the ball rolling and to resolve an issue.  But if that’s done before clarifying and confirming what that real issue may be, they may be solving a problem that doesn’t exist.  They may be taking action down one path without realizing they’re going in the wrong direction.

These are examples we saw at a University client years ago, and these are examples that we see in mystery shopping that we conduct for clients today.

Be proactive. Be responsive. Take action on behalf of the customer.  However, first make sure that you clearly understand what they’re seeking before you take that action.

Don’t assume the answer and waste your time and the customer’s time as well.

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