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

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard – 6/18/19

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CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our clients.

Some of the comments are rants, and some are raves, but one thing that’s interesting is their reaction to our response. Whether it’s a complaint or a compliment they share, they’re ALWAYS appreciative that we responded to their message.

In many cases, they’re probably appreciative just because – these days – too many companies don’t respond, so the customer’s expectation level for good customer service and responsiveness is really low.

But in other cases, they’re appreciative because of what we said and how we said it. We thank them, make some specific note about what they described, and – if appropriate – tell them we’re going to share their comment with our client so the client will follow-up with them directly.

The key here is making “some specific note about what they described.” This isn’t an auto-response we’re sending; it isn’t an insincere “I hear you, I hear you, I hear you” message. It isn’t a pure form letter.

They took the time to share their personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences, and we took the time to specifically acknowledge and appreciate them and what they shared.

Why do people share? They share just to share, but they also share to be heard.

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It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? – 6/11/19

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Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard.

You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put into a position to make decisions. Those decisions lead us down Path A or Path B. Those decisions make our life easier or harder. Those decisions help the bottom line or hurt the bottom line. And those decisions make the customer happy or upset.

What makes those decisions so hard is that one decision might help the bottom line but make the customer upset. Another decision might make your life harder but make the customer happy.

I’m not in your shoes, so I cannot tell you what decision to make. Each one of you makes hundreds of decisions each week at work and in your personal life. Neither you nor I can anticipate every situation that you’ll be presented with or every question you’ll have to consider.

But what will make your work-related decisions easier is to at least have a starting point. Even before you’re presented with a situation, know and document the principles that will guide your decision-making.

Here are some key principles to consider in your decision-making processes if your job is customer service related: Be ethical. Do what’s best for the customer now. Do what helps the organization long-term.

These might seem short and simple, but it’s amazing how the appropriate decision becomes much clearer if each alternative is tested against these principles.

What principles guide your decision-making at work? Know them, write them down, and remember them.

The next time you make a decision, let your principles be your guide.

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You Do Know Jack – 6/4/19

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Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.”

Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent and not intended to convey indifference, the customer could walk away feeling negatively. Here are some of those actions to be wary of when Jack’s engaged with a customer…

Jack knows the answer to the question, so Jack interjects while the customer’s talking….or…maybe Jack quickly ends the conversation after providing an answer (but before he confirmed they got their need met)….or…Jack might talk exceptionally fast to the customer. These could all be innocent actions, but they could all convey that Jack’s impatient. Jack’s rushing the customer. Jack’s trying to get to the next call or move this customer along.

When the customer makes a complaint, Jack makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that he is not the one responsible. He knows that others were involved with that issue, and he was NOT part of the situation. These may all be facts, but what they do is they focus the conversation on who’s to blame and the fact that Jack’s DEFINITELY NOT to blame. In the end, the customer is usually complaining because they have an issue and they want a solution. Jack’s moved the focus to one of absolving himself of responsibility instead of focusing on the customer and their solution.

Finally, Jack gets a request through e-mail or social media, via the website or the phone. It’s obvious this is a request that another area of the organization handles. So, Jack tells the customer that they will need to call the other department or go to the website to find the answer. What Jack’s suggesting is accurate, but it’s not entirely helpful. The customer will think Jack cares more about getting back to “his work” than connecting the customer to the right person or getting to the specific answer.

Do you know Jack? If so, I’m sorry. Overcome the perception that you’re indifferent by not being like Jack.

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