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

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons – 7/9/19

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Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn’t start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting around; so he would pick up a broom and sweep the break room. He would take some Windex and clean off the tables. Occasionally he would mop up the floor or use elbow grease on some countertops.

He was doing all this while he was waiting to do the job he was getting paid to do.

One of the managers noticed him cleaning before his work started, and he asked about Chris’ background. Chris had a lot of experience in custodial services, and the manager and his peers were impressed with his initiative and the quality of his work. He moved into a role with the custodial staff and eventually became full-time.

The owner of the company noticed how the windows in the front lobby were clearer than they had been in years, and he asked around as to how that was happening. The lobby staff mentioned how they had noticed Chris working extra hard on the front windows. The owner called Chris into his office, and he just thanked Chris for the quality of the work and for making the lobby look so bright for the first time in years.

A lady who worked in the facility who had never met Chris before had noticed Chris working out in the 95 degree heat, cleaning signs and sweeping off the front entrance. He was obviously working hard to make the place look good not only inside but outside as well. The lady had never officially met Chris before, but she bought a soda and brought it to him, telling him how she noticed how hard he was working out in the heat.

Sometimes being a great team member means seeing something that needs to be done and just doing it. Sometimes it means making your company look better to others. Sometimes it means having a great work ethic and caring about your company. And sometimes it results in getting noticed – getting noticed for all the right things.

People were watching Chris, and that was a good thing.

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What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story – 7/2/19

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Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from another State) had passed away since the owner’s children were selling the car. Steven put together 13 pages of documents including a copy of the death certificate, and he sent them off to the State.

Three days passed, and he didn’t hear anything. Seven days passed, and he didn’t hear anything. Two weeks passed, and…well, you get the picture.

With Steven’s patience gone and his concern heightened because he was driving the car around when it wasn’t in his name, he called the State.

Their response: “Yes, we received the fax, but we didn’t get the death certificate. So, we denied it.”

Steven: “Why didn’t you tell me that you didn’t get the death certificate? Why didn’t you let me know you denied it?”

The State: “Well, we tell customers it will be approved in 3-5 days, so we assumed that you’d figure it was denied if you didn’t hear from us in 3-5 days.”

Yes – that was really the response. Essentially what they said was – We didn’t contact you to tell you there was an issue because we figured you would realize that there was an issue if we didn’t contact you to tell you there was an issue.

Some customer service is so bad, you can’t make this stuff up.

It’s vital to proactively and promptly tell customers when there’s a problem, when there’s an issue, when more information is needed, when there’s a denial or cancellation.

You’ve probably heard the old saying that “No news is good news.” But in this case, “no news” was bad news, and it turned into a bad experience.

Never assume that the customer knows what “no news” means.

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Are you the Output or the Input? – 6/25/19

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You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process.

First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from them to us. We received the output. They complete a form, and they routed it to us. They have a complaint, and they send it to us. They make a sale, and they give the account to us. In this part of the process, we receive the output.

But we also provide the input. We take that difficult customer and sometimes escalate them to another person or area. We take that client, and we refer them to a premium services division for upselling. We work through our part of the process, and we hand off the information to the person managing the next step.

So, we receive the output, and we provide the input. As part of the process, we definitely benefit by making the process better. When we receive output that has questions or quality concerns or is not timely, particularly when this happens with some regularity, we can improve the process by professionally pointing out the problems; when we point out the problems, we should try to suggest solutions as well.

In terms of us playing the input role, we should seek the same information just recommended for you to provide to others. Contact co-workers who receive our input, and ask about our timeliness, quality, and completeness. Ask them what works well. Ask them for solutions to concerns.

If we want to deliver great customer service, we need to understand our role in the process.

Be of value to your teammates – whether you receive the output or provide the input.

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