Customer Service Tip of the Week

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Gauge Customer Satisfaction at Every Encounter – 10/8/13 TOW

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You may already feel you’re on “Metric Overload” (measuring customer satisfaction on surveys, getting mystery shopped, knowing your NPS, getting your CX ratings, and ensuring the ECS is A-OK).

Now – based on the title of this Tip – I’m going to tell you that you have to measure MORE?! Not exactly. What I’m suggesting is more do-able than daunting.

I want you to GAUGE customer satisfaction at every encounter. Measurement is done for many reasons, but the initial reason is always to gauge satisfaction. It’s easier to gauge (or get a feel for, an understanding of) satisfaction if you measure satisfaction.

But measurement for the sake of measurement is a waste of time and money. However, having every employee GAUGE customer satisfaction – literally at every customer encounter – is almost always beneficial.

So what do we mean by “gauge.” Hold the magnifying glass up to the customer’s body language; tune in more clearly to their tone-of-voice. What do those non-verbal communication methods tell you about what’s going on inside them, about what they’re feeling?

Literally ask “How was your experience today?’’ or “Did you get your needs met?” or “Is there anything more we can do?” or “Was there anything we could do differently/better next time?”

After many consulting engagements, I ask the client “Was this what you were hoping to receive when we started this process?” or “Do you feel like we achieved the goals you had envisioned when we began this project?”

By gauging the customer’s satisfaction during that encounter, you create – for yourself – an opportunity to learn what you’re doing well and to get positive feedback. You create – for the customer – an environment where they’re more comfortable sharing feedback, particularly constructive (negative) feedback.

At every customer encounter, you’re gauging customer satisfaction by literally looking, listening, and asking questions. You want to KNOW whether they’re satisfied before the conversation ends (and obviously address it if they’re not).

Gauge the customer’s satisfaction to better yourself and your organization.

 


Create Certainty with New Customers – 10/1/13 TOW

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When Jack entered the bank, he knew he needed a loan. He knew that starting up his business would be easier if he had that working capital to get things going. At this point, that’s all he knew.

Jack was anxious; he didn’t know what to expect in the process, and he didn’t know if he’d get a loan. If he got it, he didn’t know how much funding he’d get, or what the terms would be, or by when he’d have to pay it back in full to the bank.

Enter the bank officer. . .

Sherrie was about to deal with a potential customer in Jack, and she didn’t know him, his needs, or whether she could fulfill the needs. But Sherrie knew her job. She knew her paperwork, policies, and procedures. She knew the process.

While Sherrie was dealing with data, facts, and figures, she was also dealing with a person – Jack. She was also dealing with his emotions. She was also addressing what could be a lifetime customer for the very first time.

We often find ourselves in situations similar to Sherrie’s. We know our “stuff,” but we don’t know. . .well. . .Jack. But if we ask the customer enough questions, if we listen to what he says and how he says it, we can begin to understand his emotions.

And oftentimes with prospective customers, there’s apprehension. There’s a fear of the unknown. There’s uncertainty. Where we can change the uncertainty to certainty, where we can convey some hope, we can then begin to build rapport and the customer’s confidence.

Sherrie could not convey certainty about the outcome – she didn’t know if he’d get a loan, how much he would get, and what terms might be involved – but she could convey certainty about the process, about the steps, about what had worked in the past with other clients, and about the attitude and responsiveness she’d convey in her dealings with Jack.

Difficult emotions from new customers, in particular, (such as anxiety, nervousness, and fear) can be addressed by conveying certainty and hope.

Convey certainty to calm the customer’s fears.

 


Quoting Einstein – 9/24/13 TOW

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Einstein once said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

With that in mind, think about your organization’s (or your own) current issues. . .

Your bank is losing accounts. Your team is losing season ticket holders. Your municipality is getting more complaints than ever, or maybe your hospital’s patient satisfaction ratings are dropping.

You personally are seeing the quality of your work decrease; your co-workers aren’t as responsive to your requests as normal; you’re feeling less organized, or you’re getting more criticism than you’re used to hearing.

You want to find a solution to these issues, but – using Einstein’s quote – you need to approach the solution with different thinking, different questions, a different process than you used to create the problem.

Now none of us intend to “create the problem,” but we do typically create a process, a program, a philosophy, or a way of prioritizing. We do have a method to use to gain input, to make decisions, or to execute a plan.

So here are some considerations for how to solve problems with a different kind of thinking. If you don’t use these currently, consider them:

  • Have a customer advisory group help you in better understanding the problem, identifying potential solutions, or “testing” programs/products/processes prior to implementation.
  • Ask front-line employees what issues they’re hearing and how the organization can more quickly identify chronic problems and develop solutions.
  • Look at how different industries deal with problems similar to yours. What could colleges learn about retention strategies from sports teams? What could hospitals learn from manufacturers about continuous improvement? What could a bank learn from a high-end retailer about the customer experience?
  • Ask an employee of some business you patronize how they always seem to be in a great mood or how they’re able to respond so quickly to requests.
  • Ask a vendor how they maintain such a consistently high level of quality.
  • Identify different “hats” to wear in analyzing a problem, and get a group of people to look at the same problem wearing these pre-defined hats. For example, have all members of the group analyze the problem using their “Data Hat” (They all look at the problem, its root causes, and solutions based on what the data’s conveying). Other examples could include: People Hat, Process Hat, Communications Hat, Materials Hat, Motivation Hat, etc.

When problems arise, find new ways to overcome old issues.