Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Create Your Own “Fan Guide” – 12/17/13 TOW

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Benchmarking is a wonderful thing. Airlines learn how to turnaround flights faster by watching NASCAR pit crews. Businesses learn how to create engaging employees by watching the Disney experience.

In keeping with this theme, here’s a benchmarking exercise for you. Let’s look at the “A-Z Fan Guide” from a sports organization. One of our pro basketball clients creates this Guide every year for its fans. It’s a pocket-sized document (also provided in “e-form”) that is given to key fans and employees who work with the fans.

These are some of the topic areas:

  • Event/Game Schedule.
  • Contact Information for Corporate Offices and Customer Service.
  • Arena Policies.
  • ATM Machine Locations.
  • Program/Product/Merchandise Overviews and Contact Information.
  • Information on Broadcast Partners (e.g., television and radio).
  • Concessions – Options, Descriptions, and Locations.
  • Directions.
  • Arena Map.
  • Guest Conduct Overview.
  • Account Holder Management Website Information.
  • Parking Locations, Access, and Cost.
  • Free Promotions.
  • Publications.
  • Season Ticket Holder Express Lines and Other Benefits.

Essentially, it’s a combination of educational and promotional information all in one good looking, convenient package. It addresses processes, products/services, promotions, personal contact information, policies, perks, partners, and the physical location. Now think about how this could apply to your business.

What would you share with your clients to educate them on the best experience they could have with you? What promotional options would you mix into this tool? To whom would you provide such a tool? In other words, who would benefit most from one key tool to best navigate your organization and utilize your products and services?

Learn from the pro sports “A-Z Fan Guide” to best educate and inform your customers.

 


In Service Recovery, Say It Like You Mean It – 12/10/13 TOW

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Wanda was incensed. She was talking to the customer service representative about one of her client’s mortgages, and she was venting. “I waited on hold for 37 minutes, and then when the representative picked up the phone, he tried to help, but he couldn’t. After 11 minutes, he transferred me to another service center, where I was on hold 10 minutes as well. I left a message, and nobody has called me back!”

Notice that she’s giving specific times, explaining the process she’s been through, and ends with a negative (and a hefty inflection).

Next, Wanda was silent for about 15 seconds, and then she said “My client just wants to pay off the mortgage. The gentleman I spoke with from your company tried that, and it didn’t work.” [paused] “You say you want to help, but if you did you would be listening – like I mentioned, he already tried that, and…” [paused] “Please don’t interrupt. Listen, my client just wants to pay off his loan. Just look up his account number, please, like the other gentleman did, and I’ll explain this again.”

Notice that she’s using professional terminology (“gentleman…client…please”), but she’s upset after each pause. In each pause, the customer service representative is trying to direct Wanda or trying to run through a script, and Wanda isn’t happy. Wanda seems professional and somewhat patient, but she’s VERY frustrated, and this current representative isn’t conveying he cares. He isn’t conveying that he’s listening. He isn’t conveying that he SINCERELY wants to help.

In Service Recovery situations such as this (especially on the phone), the customer not only needs to sense action is occurring, but they need to feel like you’re listening – they need to hear that in your voice and by what you communicate back to them. Restating and confirming their issue before suggesting a next step, having empathy, being patient enough to let them finish while conveying a little urgency FOR them through your voice (with some pace and fluctuation), and even stating that you want to help (by emphasizing the word “want”) – these are ways to show you care in Service Recovery.

These conversations are tough, but to the customer they’re often tougher because they feel they have no control over the resolution. Therefore, we need to deal with their emotion with sincerity coming through in our voice.

In Service Recovery, Say It Like You Mean It.


Where Pizza Delivery and Emergency Rooms Intersect – 12/3/13 TOW

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What do Pizza Delivery and Emergency Room clinical care have in common (other than heartburn and accidents caused by speeding drivers)?

Let’s investigate…

During college, I worked one summer and two holiday breaks delivering pizzas. My initial thought was to drive fast, run to the door, smile, and do my best to make it a pleasant, fast experience – and get good tips! When I was being trained, the store manager gave me two tips that were interesting (and a little surprising).

First, don’t speed – a driver getting into an accident or seen weaving in and out of traffic at high speeds wasn’t good for business for this new shop in this small town. Second, when you leave your car to go to the front door of the home, walk quickly – don’t run, but also don’t walk slowly. The thinking was that if the customer sees you walking slowly, then they may give you a lower tip since it doesn’t look like you’re making the effort. If you run, you could seem (or be) reckless – not a good image.

Fast-forward 20+ years to an Emergency Room (E.R.) patient focus group I facilitated recently. Among the many interesting responses we received from E.R. patients was that they were perturbed if they were waiting in an exam room with little interaction with staff and then saw (or heard) nursing staff or doctors chit-chatting about the latest reality TV show or shopping excursion.

So what’s the connection between these Pizza Delivery and E.R. stories? It’s this – customers often form their perceptions of us in the most unusual times. It’s when they’re waiting for us, watching us, and listening to us – even if they’re not interacting with us.

The pizza customers perceived the driver’s effort and service-orientation in part by how they appeared in going from the car door to the front door. The patients perceived E.R. clinical staff to be wasting time or unconcerned about the patient if the staff were engaged in small talk when the patients were in need of care, communication, and support.

Think about how customers can see you, hear you, and perceive you even when you’re not directly interacting with them. They often form opinions based on those things that surround the “Moment of Truth.”

Watch for the customer’s opportunity to watch you.