Customer Service Tip of the Week

I Think I Think is Wrong - 10/20/20


I think that’s not going to be feasible.  I think we can do that.  I think you’re on the right track.  Methinks thou dost protest too much. Please forgive the Shakespearean reference, but it seems to fit well here.  When we are talking to co-workers and customers, and we’re giving Read more

Be Slowest, and Be the Best – Chick-fil-A - 10/13/20


About one week ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article that analyzed the results of a SeeLevel HX research engagement on the customer experience at fast food restaurants.  The results were seemingly contradictory.  The fast food chain with by far the overall best drive-thru experience was Chick-fil-A, and yet Read more

Connect During Customer Service Week - 10/6/20


It’s Customer Service Week…woohoo!  This week should be all about the customers we serve and the staff who serve them.  This should be about conveying we value other people, and – hopefully – having other people convey that they value us.  It’s a week about people – about us. This Read more

Temper the Tone of THE VOICE - 9/29/20


The television show The Voice is a singing competition.  The opening episodes of every season begin with individuals singing while judges have their backs to the singer.  The judges can’t see the singer, so they are evaluating the performer purely based on their voice. Oftentimes, when the judge turns around, Read more

Keep On Going - 9/22/20


Thomas Edison once said “Many of life’s failures are experiences by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” You are close to success – Keep On Going. Winston Churchill once said "If you’re going through hell, keep going."  This quote has been taken Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events


Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential Read more

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

React, Reflect, Respond – 6/16/20

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment

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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The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience – 6/2/20

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Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses?

The answer is obvious.  But I want to look at a different answer that is a little bit deeper.  Particularly as we are transitioning back into reopening many of our businesses, a lot of these changes are not changes in the product or service itself.  They are changes in how the product is delivered.  They are changes in the experience the customer has with the organization.  They are changes in how that experience looks and feels when the customer comes to our facilities and locations.

And we are making these changes not just to adhere to governmental regulations and not just to address new organizational policies.

We are making these changes so that our customers are comfortable and confident.  We want our customers, after experiencing this new way of doing business with us, to have confidence enough in our ability to deliver that product or service that they are willing to come back.

In other words, we’re doing this to create the comfort and confidence that leads to repeat business.

So, even though we are changing our operations to adhere to regulations and policies, start transitioning to a slightly higher-level set of questions.  When you are thinking of how to transform your customer experience, ask:  How can you make an experience that will create more comfort for the customer?  How can you create communications around the experience that make the customer more confident?

As you begin to make these changes, focus on the comfort and confidence that your customer will walk away with, and you will – in the end – focus on the things that are going to drive repeat business.

Design for customer comfort and confidence.

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