Customer Service Tip of the Week

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

It’s NOT about the Cinnamon - 12/15/20


It was happening again.  Jessica had just handed the freshly made concoction to her coffee shop customer, and less than a minute later, the customer was in Jessica’s face, red as a beet, ranting and raving:  I specifically asked for extra cinnamon on top!  Does this look like extra Read more

Locke-in from the Start - 12/8/20


John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher, physician, and researcher.  He wrote many papers arguing particular points, oftentimes using reason and facts as the basis for his position.  He noted that many disagreements start because there is – in my words – a lack of real clarity about Read more

The End of the Tunnel - 12/1/20


Have you ever heard the expression:  There’s light at the end of the tunnel… In this COVID-era world, it sure does feel like the tunnel is long, doesn’t it?  It sure feels like this is not a light that we’ll be at in 2 seconds after the train goes another Read more

A Lesson in Gratitude - 11/24/20


Mr. Robinson went to the hardware store with his teenaged son, Steve.  Steve was starting his first woodworking project – building a small coffee table – and needed supplies.  As they walked the aisles, Mr. Robinson and Steve couldn’t find the exact type of wood they wanted, so Mr. Read more

Why Your Job is Important - 11/17/20


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 Read more

Never Before… – 8/4/20

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The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, companies are fighting to keep customers.  They’re coming up with creative ways to change the customer experience.  They are trying to identify unique opportunities to provide customer service in a way that works best for the customer.

We’re seeing enhanced delivery of services and packages.  We’re seeing the offer from businesses to take products out to customers while they are in the car.  We see employees wearing masks and facilities being sanitized like never before.  We’re seeing acceleration of technology options for customers to browse and to buy and get their questions answered.

But the products themselves remain relatively the same. The services themselves remain relatively the same.  The programs themselves remain relatively the same.

So, what is different?

We’ve always defined customer service as the Attitude (and skills, knowledge) conveyed by employees and the Processes within which the customer experiences the service and the product.  These are the areas where companies are making significant change.  They are improving customer service by improving Attitudes and Processes.

Companies are realizing the importance of retention and the value of the customer more and more, and they are finding different ways to deliver the same product.  They’re more overtly appreciative of the customers they have and those that are taking the steps to stay with the businesses.

There are many lessons learned here, but the one key takeaway is that customer service matters.  Customer service adds value.  Customer service leads to higher retention and sales.  And customer service is about serving the customers in a manner that would work best for the customer.

The keep a customer, find out how to best serve the customer.

Serve like never before.

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Effectively Teach the Customer – 7/28/20

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The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher.  The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student.  In 3rd and 4th place were gestures and smiles, and since we talk a lot about body language, will defer those for now.

So, let’s talk about the top two and how they relate to customer service.  Oftentimes, you are in the role of being a teacher to the customer – particularly in this COVID-19 world where we’re having to do things differently, where customers are having to do things differently, or customers are often having to do things for themselves.  If we want them to retain what we teach, we need to shift some of the past paradigms in the customer service world.

Longer Conversations – First, a short customer conversation may be good for a call center’s handle times, but it’s bad for a customer’s learning.  Increasing our patience, planning for more time with customer encounters, and ensuring customer understanding of processes, activities, and expectations – these actions have the greatest effect on how well the customer learns what we’re teaching them.

Encouragement – Second, it’s not just a matter of conveying the right information and allocating the time to it.  It’s also a matter of encouraging the customer. I know we don’t often think of ourselves as the coach to the player as employees to the customer, but when we are helping them to help themselves and expecting them to do things differently, we need to encourage them just like coaches encourage players.  We need to give them positive feedback just like teachers should with students or – for that matter – we should with each other.

When you find yourself in the role of educating others, allow for longer interactions with customers, and ensure the content is complemented by your encouragement of the customer.

Be a great teacher to your customers.

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Meet on Equal and Even Ground – 7/21/20

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“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service.

We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding of the customer – where they’re at and what their situation is at that time.  Thoreau is referencing the same thing.  For us to be of service to others, we need to try to get on equal ground, even ground.

Where is this other person at this moment?  Is the customer in an emotional state?  Are they upset or angry or anxious?  What did they do to get to this point where they are in front of us or on the phone with us or sending us the e-mail or text?  The answers to these questions provide the “ground.”  We create a common understanding of their current footing and how they got to this place.

But for us to best serve, we must also be equal.  How can we turn that understanding of their ground into creating a position of equality?  We have to think about how we’re speaking to that person.  We have to think about the words that we use based on their situation.  We have to consider how well we listen and how well we portray that we’re listening.  We have to use some of their words when responding in dialogue to them.  We need to reflect their tone or at least a slightly softer tone when they are loud.

To be of best service to someone, understand where they are and how they got there, then consciously try to reflect them.

To best serve others, meet on equal and even ground.

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