Customer Service Tip of the Week

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


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 Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


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 Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


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 Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Link and the $5 Mistake – 5/27/14 TOW

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It was Link’s first job – working in the retail shop – and he enjoyed it immensely. He was learning how a business runs, the importance of the customer to a company’s success, and his role in creating that success. He had these big picture lessons he was learning, even though his pay was minimum wage, and he basically did grunt work and occasionally ran the register.

He was one of those people in a small role, but you could see big things ahead for him.

One day, he was given the responsibility for closing the store and closing out the register. This was many years ago, so there was no credit card machine, and no computer system – it was all manual.

And as Link started shutting things down, he did a quick reconciliation between the cash in the drawer and the register tape. It was off by $5. And then it hit him; he had calculated the change wrong on the last customer of the day, and he gave Ms. Isaacs $5 change when it should have been $10. She was buying some supplies for an out of town trip, so Link knew she’d be gone for a while.

With no car to drive and no phone to call from (this is not that recent a story), he started walking. Block after block, mile after mile toward her house. When he arrived, he apologized to Ms. Isaacs, gave her the additional change, turned, and began the long walk home.

In case it’s not obvious, this is a slight twist on the Abe Lincoln story. But it goes to show that he wasn’t just a great President; he was also great at customer service. He enjoyed the job, looked at it as a learning experience, performed well regardless of the role, and enjoyed engaging his customers. He wasn’t perfect, but he resolved issues quickly, he didn’t make excuses, and he – literally – went the extra mile for his customers.

Abe wasn’t just “Honest.” He was also a really good customer service rep.


Steve Wynn and Caring About the Customer – 5/20/14 TOW

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Steve Wynn, the Las Vegas casino mogul, was talking to his staff about the keys to transforming his culture. No, he wasn’t discussing gambling, upcoming ventures, or new revenue ideas.

He talked about getting every employee to feel good about the good they do for customers.

“If you make someone feel good about themselves, they will love you for it,” Wynn said. “Forget the crystal chandeliers, the hand woven carpet, and the marble. It means nothing. All of a sudden you’re engaged with someone who cares about you.”

He uses the example of a couple who had left their medicine (including diabetes meds) at their home five hours away, and Wynn notes the bellman who drove to the couple’s home to pick up the medicine from their housekeeper. He mentions the card dealer going on break who noticed two customers looking confused. The dealer engaged the customers, asked if they needed help, and then walked them to the conference room they were looking for which was located about five minutes away.

But then Wynn talked about how the organization uses existing shift change meetings that happen all throughout his hotels – in housekeeping, the kitchen, the front desk, and the casinos – as a place where supervisors ask for these success stories and use the stories to immediately recognize staff via their intranet and break room postings.

Wynn focused on transforming the organization by going to the heart of the organization – its customers and employees. He prioritized making customers feel special, and then making those employees feel special for what they did to serve customers.

Whether your organization has the glitz of a casino or not, ensure that every customer walks away knowing that you care about them. Encourage employees to make customers feel appreciated, and then appreciate your staff for doing it.

“If you make someone feel good about themselves (customer or employee), they will love you for it.”


An Interesting Tip about Amazing Service – 5/13/14 TOW

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I listen to a sports talk show periodically, and the host has an interesting habit. He is always making statements such as “It’s really interesting that…” or “What’s amazing is that…” He will then follow-up that statement with an observation or conclusion that he wants you to find interesting, too – so you’ll keep listening.

Sometimes the conclusions aren’t the most interesting such as ‘What’s really amazing is that. . .when I watch the paint dry. . .it actually. . .dries!” Wow?

But there are three extremely useful tips that we can learn from this radio personality. First, the words you use matter – often tremendously. Our goal in customer service includes imparting a feeling to the customer or co-worker that we care for them, that they are valued, and that they are important. And our words impact their perception of whether we care.

Think about a situation where you’re a banker listening to a customer describe their need: “I am looking for a way to open my own jewelry making business using repurposed items like old necklaces, broken bracelets, etc. But I need some capital to acquire tools and develop a website.”

You could respond “We offer loans,” or you could respond “Wow! That’s a really interesting concept; what a great idea to use old jewelry to make attractive, new items to sell! And we definitely have funded many creative companies like yours.”

In both cases you might provide the loan, but which response will more quickly establish a rapport and increase the likelihood of the customer wanting to go with your bank?

What about the patient in the physician’s practice that notices a spill that nobody cleaned up? You could respond “We’ll take care of that,” or you could respond “Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention. That helps a lot – we don’t want anyone stepping in it or slipping. I REALLY appreciate it.”

Which response better conveys how much you value them and what they’ve done?

Second, avoid a tone that wreaks of sarcasm or indifference – offer a sense of sincerity with your tone. And third, avoid the hyperbolic statement such as: “Thank goodness you told me about the spill! Someone could have died! You just saved a life!”

Remember that the sincere interjection of some key words (interesting, amazing, appreciate, thank, sharing, etc.) helps the other person to feel valued, important, and appreciated.

Convey interest with a few amazing words.