Customer Service Tip of the Week

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Why Your Job is Important – 11/17/20

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I was speaking with a client recently, and she was telling me about one of the classes delivered by their professional development team. Her description of the course reminded me of some client workshops we’ve conducted where a part of the outcome is having individual staff develop Personal Mission Statements. These Statements essentially describe the greater good that employees provide through their work – the benefit to customers, community, company, or co-workers.  Beyond all the tasks and responsibilities, this describes that bigger purpose.

The course that my client had taken had a slightly different take on this concept.  Instead of talking about the greater good people do through their job, essentially the course helped employees to answer the question “Why is my job important?”

This is an important question for every employee to answer, and it’s not a question you would answer to be boastful about yourself.  It’s a question to answer so that we truly realize the value that we provide.  Asking a “Why?” question is tough.  It forces you to think about the reasons the role exists, the ultimate benefits, and the responsibilities asked of you.

It’s important because sometimes the tasks can seem mundane and repetitive.  Sometimes our motivational level just isn’t there.  Sometimes we need a refresher on how vital we are to our organizations.

So, ask yourself this question:  Why is my job important? Or maybe you want to rephrase it to say:  Why is it important that I perform this work?  Why is it important that I do a great job?  What would be the ramifications if this work was never done or was done poorly?  What would be the ramifications if I wasn’t the one making sure the needs fulfilled through my job were addressed?

Give yourself a little motivation by understanding how vital you and your responsibilities are, as well.

Uncover and clearly understand why your job is important.

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Listen Even When Nobody’s Speaking – 11/10/20

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Online Chats are wonderful ways to provide customer service, except when they’re not wonderful ways to provide customer service.  Note the partial chat transcript below.  The company name has been replaced with STORE, and the location was changed to TOWN:

  • STORE Bot at 9:54: Thank you. An agent will be with you shortly to start your chat.
  • STORE Bot at 9:56: Mary T. has joined the conversation.
  • Customer at 9:56: Hi there. I visited the TOWN STORE last night for this product: EMSCO GROUP 20-in W x 24-in L x 10-in H Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Item #48620 Model #2345D
  • Mary T. at 9:57: Hello there! My name is Mary. I will be happy to assist you today!
  • Customer at 9:57: Hi. Their inventory system said they had 8 in stock, but the employee looked for 25 minutes and only found 1 – it was used. If I order it off the website for pickup at STORE, how do I make sure I get a new one, and by when would it be available?
  • Mary T. at 10:00: My apologies for the inconvenience. If on the website there is availability for being shipped it means that we have it available on the warehouse. You can ship it for free to the store the desired items.
  • Customer at 10:01: Thanks. If I order today, by when would it be ready at STORE? Also, how/when will they notify me that it’s ready for pickup?
  • Mary T. at 10:03: Thank you for waiting. I’ll be with you in just a moment.
  • Customer at 10:04: ok
  • Mary T. at 10:05: Yes! You will be receiving a notification when it is available by email.
  • Customer at 10:05: If I order today, by when would it be ready at STORE? I’d like to get it by Mother’s Day – that’s why I ask.
  • Mary T. at 10:06: May I have the item number so I can check?
  • Mary T. at 10:07: May I please have your Zip code?
  • Customer at 10:07: EMSCO GROUP 20-in W x 24-in L x 10-in H Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Item #48620 Model #2345D
  • Customer at 10:08: ZIP CODE – The TOWN Store I noted earlier is my store
  • Mary T. at 10:09: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
  • Mary T. at 10:11: Yes! We have availability for pick up today at TOWN STORE
  • Customer at 10:13: I’m confused. I was there last night, and they didn’t have any in stock. Just to clarify (since they had issues finding it in the store even though it said there were 8 in inventory like I mentioned above), does that mean it can be delivered from a warehouse, or are you just seeing it in in-store inventory?
  • Mary T. at 10:15: I’ll be right with you.
  • Mary T. at 10:17: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
  • Mary T. at 10:19: We have 5 available at OTHER TOWN STORE, please call at (888) 555-1212 to check availability.
  • Customer at 10:22: My focus was ensuring it was in the TOWN Store for pickup; I was trying to do a chat instead of calling to several stores myself and running into the same issue I had last night.

This was my experience.  I had to give the product model twice, store location twice, repeat the request twice, ask by when it would be ready more than twice, and then was told I needed to call a different store to determine availability.  Neither of us was – literally – speaking, and yet I didn’t feel she was listening to me.

When delivering chat-based customer service, or even e-mail customer service responses, ensure you thoroughly confirm what information the customer has conveyed and what request they’ve shared, so you address the need right the first time.

Ensure you listen, even when nobody’s speaking.

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Don’t Publicize Pain Points – 11/3/20

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Years ago, a mining company received numerous formal complaints about the noise from its operations.  The complaints primarily came from one nearby neighborhood.  That neighborhood was the location where the mining company had to build a small above-ground structure to support the operations.

The community was interested in finding ways to address the noise.  One of the ideas that residents came up with was to put a hedge around the structure.  The company said that the noise wasn’t coming from the structure; it was actually coming from the mining field, but the company decided to do what the residents requested.

So, they built a hedge around this structure that was so tall and dense that residents couldn’t see the object.

Eventually, the formal complaints completely stopped.

Kudos to the residents for coming up with an idea to address a company problem, and kudos to the company for doing what the residents suggested and not arguing the point.

What’s the takeaway?  Many issues and solutions are more about perception than reality.  Seeing something makes you associate it with other things.  The structure made you think of the noise, which made you think negatively about the company.  Remove the visual reminder (the structure), and the noise was the only reminder about…the noise – which people got used to over time.

I experience this personally every day.  I live near a fire station, but rarely do I notice the sirens unless I see the flashing lights.

When you’re trying to deliver a great customer experience, one way you do so is to eliminate the pain points in the customer journey.  But another way is to avoid reminding the customer about the pain.  If long waits or old facilities or excessive paperwork are challenges to the service experience, work to improve those – but also avoid shining a light on them.

Address reality AND perception.  Don’t publicize pain points.

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