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

The Rising Tide – 5/6/14 TOW

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The rising tide lifts all boats. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but it fits into our workplace just as much as the high seas.

When I wrote the tip about motivating yourself by writing down your daily successes, a reader commented that it would be great to have a team meeting with other customer service staff each morning, and then have staff share one of their success stories from the prior day.

At face value, it sounded like a good idea, and as I thought about the concept and responded to the reader, it began to sound better and better.

Think about having a daily meeting that was simply “5 minutes of positives.” What would it do for you, your teammates, your staff? You could quickly see what one person did great, and pat them on the back. You could learn about how one person handled a tough situation effectively. You could feel good for others and enjoy the recognition when they celebrate your success. You could have a picture of success painted for you every day, creating a consistent focus among teammates on great customer service, and reinforcing what a great job others are doing.

This is about starting your day with 5 minutes of positive energy. This is about not just you or your customer; it’s about your team. It’s about the quality of the workplace continuously improving – creating a rising tide of positives and successes that lifts everyone.

Being intentional about having “5 minutes of positives” can be big in a team developing a common focus on customer service and more confidence in what they do.

Help the tide of your team to rise with 5 minutes of positives.


Adrian Knew the Goal of His Role – 4/29/14 TOW

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Last week was about the “5 P’s” of Building Confidence, but this week’s Tip will focus on the most significant one of all: Knowing Your Purpose.

I was facilitating a training workshop of K-12 bus drivers on Service Excellence. During the session, I asked everyone to create a “Personal Mission Statement.” Essentially I asked them “What is the greater good in what you do? What is the bigger reason for your job – beyond the miles you drive, the maintenance you check, the conversations you have?” I was essentially asking them “What’s the goal of your role?”

I told them that I’d give them a couple minutes to write down their thoughts, and soon everyone started writing except Adrian. So I asked Adrian if he had any questions about the assignment, and he said “No. I know exactly what my purpose is.” After giving everyone another minute to write, I asked for volunteers, and Adrian was the first to raise his hand. He said “I’m here to be a role model to the kids. I’m here to make sure they stay straight and give them advice when they need it.”

Now Adrian was probably only 23-24 years old at the time, but he knew his greater purpose. He knew that his true job – the true good he provided – went far beyond the thousands of miles he drove annually. It went far beyond the paperwork he completed and his many maintenance checks. His impact went beyond cleaning the bus and arriving on time.

He knew the goal of his role.

Do you Know Your Purpose? When you clearly understand your role and the greater good you provide for your customer, your co-worker, your company, and your community, you can be more confident in acting. You can be more decisive, because you know what you’re doing is part of your Purpose.

Find your inner Adrian – Know the Goal of Your Role.


Build Your Confidence with the 5 P’s – 4/22/14 TOW

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Sometimes a person’s anxiety, worry, indecision, passivity, inefficiency, and lack of ownership can all have the same source – lack of confidence. It could be the student unwilling to raise his hand in class; we could be discussing the leader making decisions simply by not making decisions. Maybe it’s the adult talking with twelve friends and family members about something to gain the 100% certainty that will never exist. Maybe it’s the employee who won’t take on a responsibility because they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing.

Years ago, we shared a Tip of the Week (TOW) that talked about how to build confidence, and what we’re doing today is expanding that list to build your confidence further. To build your confidence, here are the 5 P’s of knowledge-building. You need to “Know Your:”

  • Processes – Learn your organization’s information flows and process flows so you can know HOW things occur and be able to explain the HOW of actions to customers.
  • Policies – Understand the company’s policies and the reasons for them to be able to explain the WHY behind the WHAT to customers.
  • Products – Become well aware of your organization’s products and services so you can easily match the customer’s issue/need/goal to your company’s solution.
  • People – Know who does what in your organization so you’re aware of whom to contact to address a need; also, get to know your customers – ask questions, look at their purchase/participation/service history so you can tailor your response to what makes them and their situation unique.
  • Purpose – Understand your purpose. We’ll address this more in next week’s TOW, but think of Purpose like this – why do you do what you do? Beyond the tasks, meetings, notes, communications, paperwork – what is the greater good in what you do? If you know the ultimate goal of your role, you can be more confident, particularly when what you are being asked to do might not be “within the job description.”

Use this knowledge-based approach to becoming more confident in interactions with customers.

Build confidence by building knowledge.