Customer Service Tip of the Week

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

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

Patience Leads to Positivity – 8/6/19

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Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer.

When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like I’ve completed a process, when in reality I’ve only gotten through the first step. I hate coming to the end of the first step and finding that there’s a second step, getting to the end of the second step, and only then finding that there’s a third step. It would be so much better to just know all the steps, the entire timeframe, and what I need to do from the start to make all these steps go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Again, I’m talking from the perspective of the customer. Whether it is talking to account representative about some new service or talking to the computer tech helping me deal with a blinking computer screen, I like to know the steps.

In these situations, I am asking a lot of questions, and things I appreciate most about a person are (1) The specific responses conveyed with knowledge and experience as well as (2) Patience.

Customer Frustrations
It bothers me to no end when I feel like the person is rushing through the conversation. It’s frustrating when they’re making the process sound like it’s not that big a deal; it probably isn’t a big deal to them since they’ve dealt with it 100 times, but it is a big deal to me, the customer. It’s frustrating when they talk fast or make statements unrelated to my need because they didn’t ask questions about what’s unique about my situation.

Avoiding their Frustrations
So, what is not frustrating? What is positive? Knowledge and experience conveyed in specific responses…and patience. When you’re dealing with somebody who’s about to go through a series of steps, convey these attributes.

Be patient. Think about your body language. Avoid interrupting. Breathe a few times to slow yourself down. Ask them questions to understand their situation so you don’t have to talk about the 5 different paths something might take if it’s obvious this process is going to go down 1 path for this 1 unique customer’s 1 situation.

Let your patience result in a positive customer experience.

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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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