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

Back to Reality…for Customer Expectations – 7/30/19

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Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?”

Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is ‘X’ minutes?”

Have you ever begun the process of getting a permit to build a deck on a home and been given a form that says what each step in the process involves, when you need to do each step (including inspections), and whom you need to contact?

You may reply “no” to all of these or “yes” to some, but these are examples of companies who understand the importance of trying to set or manage customer expectations. These companies understand that that first person may complain after waiting 5 minutes if they don’t realize that a 15-minute wait is realistic. These companies realize that that second customer may get irate or take their business elsewhere if they had to wait on the phone 2 minutes but might be more patient if their expectation is a 3-minute wait. These companies understand that a customer educated on a process is more comfortable and less likely to have issues with it, less likely to do things incorrectly.

Companies who attempt to proactively set or manage expectations understand the importance of the customer having some concept in their mind of what the reality is going to be; that makes it more likely that the customer will be satisfied with the experience, and the employee won’t have to deal with an irate customer.

Where can your company proactively set an expectation with customers about how long a process will take, how long a wait might be, what actions are about to take place, or what they need to do?

Determine where the opportunities to set expectations exist, and then use signage, messaging, documentation, and direct one-on-one conversations to do whatever you can to set (or reset) your customers’ expectations.

Get customer expectations back to reality.

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For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged – 7/23/19

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The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going to ignore her and not make eye contact and hope somebody else deals with her.

The patient walked into the doctor’s office, and he saw that there was no line. There were 3 receptionists all looking at their computers. He didn’t know which line to go in, so he stood there, and nobody looked up. He then said “Hello” to nobody in particular, and one of the receptionist’s said: Last name.

The season ticket holder had a question about the survey that had just been emailed to her. So, she clicked on the e-mail address in the invitation and sent an e-mail to the research firm. The research firm replied with an answer within the hour. The customer replied right back: Thank you so much for the quick reply! I was actually kind of surprised that you sent an email. Whenever I email the team, they don’t reply unless I am asking for additional seats for a game.

These are 3 stories that happen all too often in business, and they are examples of bad customer service…when there is no customer service. Oftentimes, bad customer service is reflected in what employees do wrong or how a business is set up to make it difficult on the employee to deliver good service.

But many times, it’s the lack of service that is bad customer service. It’s a lack of a response to the e-mail. It’s the lack of the greeting to the patient. And it’s the lack of taking care of an issue caused by other customers, and that issue becomes a bad experience for everybody sitting in that waiting room.

Sometimes the best way to deliver a good experience is simply to show up. Respond to messages. Initiate a conversation with a greeting, a welcome. Address that irate customer before they create an environment that spreads negativity to the other customers.

For excellence to happen, get engaged.

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Libby Listened to Serve – 7/16/19

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Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall.

After going through her training on the computer and phone systems, she began to work in the live environment. Day after day she took the calls from the customers, answering their questions and handling their complaints. As her supervisor would monitor her production on the phone, he noticed an alarming statistic. Her average call length was about 30 seconds longer than the organization’s target.

The supervisor needed to know why this was happening. He knew that she was a good conversationalist based on their employee meetings and her initial interviews with the company. Maybe she was talking way too much.

So he began auditing her calls, listening in for long periods of time during the day. Suddenly, several things became obvious. First, she surely was not a big talker. She had a friendly tone when she did talk, but she was actually quite quiet. Then the supervisor noted when she did talk that she would either affirm something the customer was saying or she’d ask a question. Then he realized that she was resolving their issue herself, or getting the most appropriate answer herself to the question on that one call. There would be no need for that customer to call back on that topic again. This was First Call Resolution at its best.

Then he realized her secret. She was a great listener. The customers loved talking with her, they got their items addressed, and they felt that someone cared about them. And at the same time, she didn’t talk too much, and she addressed their topics on the spot. There would be no repeat calls on the same topics from Libby’s customers.

The supervisor was so pleased with what he found that he redesigned their call-handling procedures to focus on effective listening techniques. He focused on owning the customer’s satisfaction. And he focused on using effective questioning techniques to resolve issues on the first call.

The volume of calls dropped because of the resolution, customer satisfaction soared, and employee morale grew. All because they learned how to listen.

Listen to your customers and your employees to serve them better.

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