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

Anatomy of a DMV Experience – 3/25/14 TOW

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The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee was very nice and patient with me on the phone. I’m sure that any supervisor that was listening in on the call would give the representative good marks for addressing my need and thanking me for my call.

But it was a horrible experience. Why?

As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

A friend had just recently received a car from a relative, and it had a 10-day temporary authorization to drive without an inspection. Prior to getting the car inspected, my friend unexpectedly got very sick (she is well now, thank goodness), and my friend was afraid that she’d miss the deadline to get an inspection. So she asked that I call to see if she could get an extension:

  • Call #1 – I went to the State DMV website and didn’t find the answer, but I did find a phone number to call. The recorded message asked me to wait and gave no specific expected time for the call to be answered. I waited on hold for 10 minutes and then hung up.
  • Call #2 – I called a local DMV office (let’s call this Office “A”); after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up.
  • Call #3 – I called another local DMV office (let’s call this Office “B”); it rang busy.
  • Call #4 – I called a 3rd local DMV office (let’s call this Office “C”); there was a pleasant message noting whether they would accept payments; they suggested I press “0” for Operator; so I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #5 – I called Office “C” back a few minutes later, thinking that maybe they didn’t have a call queue; after the pleasant message, I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #6 – I called Office “B,” hoping that it too just was overloaded and maybe didn’t have a call queue; it rang busy again.
  • Call #7 – I called Office “A,” and – again – after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up again.
  • Call #8 – I called the State DMV again, and – after 14 minutes – the representative picked up the call as I noted at the beginning of this Tip.

We cannot assume that because one conversation went right on the phone that the customer had a great experience. For all we know, the customer may have had 7 bad experiences before that one conversation that went right.

If this was a private business, I wouldn’t have called 8 times; I would have gone to a competitor, and just like the DMV, they never would have known why.

Mystery Shop your services, or ask the customer about their experience. Never assume that because one moment-of-truth went right that the overall experience worked for the customer.

Know what you’re missing about the full customer experience.

 


Motivate Yourself? – 3/18/14 TOW

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How often have you heard the expression “self-motivated?” It’s usually used to describe others such as “That job applicant is obviously NOT self-motivated” or “Joe needs to be more self-motivated.”

So what exactly are these (typically) managers saying when they lament a lack of self-motivation in others? It’s usually that they don’t know how to motivate someone, and it’s frustrating to them. It could also be that they don’t want to have to motivate someone. They’d rather that employees motivate themselves.

“They get to keep their job – isn’t that motivation enough?!”

Well this Tip has a simple idea that will make those managers (the good ones and bad ones) happy. This advice will also help those of us who don’t get the outside motivation we need.

It’s simple – 3 Steps. Step #1: Make a Success List every day. This is what I do (and it works).

At the start of the day, get out a blank sheet of paper, and write “Successes” at the top. Then throughout the day, note a word or two to remind yourself of one of your accomplishments. Today, for example, I have 5 successes so far (I just write on my sheet what you see to the left of the hyphen below):

  • Bob Smith – The name of a client who said he’d be a reference for CSS for some pro sports mystery shopping work
  • Client X Mtg – A sales meeting I had this morning that went great
  • Article Published! – Notes an article that was published today
  • Great Interview – A helpful telephone interview with a client to share information in preparation for some upcoming training
  • Survey Launched – We launched a new survey today.

By the way, completing this Tip of the Week will be #6!

You don’t use the Success List as a rehash of your To Do’s. There may be some of that on there, but it’s basically your accomplishments – a customer conversation that went well, some kudos you received in an e-mail, some interest on a new project, some thank you that a customer provided, or a word of encouragement from a co-worker or supervisor. Maybe it’s the fact that your week is planned or you reduced the backlog of work. Maybe you went through an old file and purged some old documents.

Whatever it is, write it down.

Here’s Step #2 – Read it as the last thing you do before you go home.

And Step #3 – Read it again as the first thing you do to start the day.

Being self-motivated is a wonderful attribute, but not many of us – day in and day out – can do that without intent. Be intentional. Recognize your own successes. Pat yourself on the back – you deserve it!

Create your own daily “Success List.”

 


Consider Client Onboarding – 3/11/14 TOW

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In Human Resources circles, a word that has become ubiquitous (which – by the way – is also ubiquitous) is “onboarding.” One way to define onboarding is that it’s the process of getting a new hire acclimated to their role as an employee. It’s also defined as “organizational socialization.” It enables new hires to get the knowledge, skills, and behaviors to have a successful transition into your business as effective employees.

While I’m not an expert on employee onboarding, I liken the concept to what we often recommend – let’s call it Client Onboarding.

When you have a new customer or client, if you are a long-term thinker, one who views the customer through the lens of their lifetime value as opposed to their one-time transaction, then it helps you to paint a picture of what Client Onboarding should entail.

If this new client of yours is one you want to keep for a long-time, over many years and transactions, consider these questions:

  • What can you learn about them today that would help you to better serve them tomorrow?
  • How can you ensure they have a good enough experience in this transaction that they’ll want to come back a second time?
  • What can you share with them that will help them to know how to navigate your services or processes more easily in the future?
  • Who or what do they need to know in your organization to begin forming the more social or personal relationship with your people and your business?
  • What can you do with the environment so that it becomes more comfortable, self-evident, and familiar to them in a next visit?
  • What can you do to solicit their feedback so they feel their voice is important and so you learn what’s important to them?
  • How do you convey the appreciation that makes them feel valued in their ongoing relationship with you?

While these were just seven questions, notice the common thread in each…that thread is the future. The references to tomorrow, second time, future, and ongoing. The discussion of begin forming, become, and next.

Get your clients onboard. Be intentional about what you need to do to get a long-term journey started with them.

Enable “organizational socialization” for your clients.