Customer Service Tip of the Week

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

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

I Assume She is Not Like Me – 3/4/14 TOW

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She left me a voice mail, and I prefer to respond via e-mail. She talks really fast, and I prefer a more casual speed. What she wants most is to be heard, and what I want most is to have my problem fixed. She wants to be walked through a process by an employee, and I want the self-service option.

She is the customer. I am the employee. We could not be more different.

But what if I prefer voice mail, I talk fast, I want to be heard, and I want that 1-on-1 employee support? Then we’re the same, correct?

The point is not in the determination of whether we’re the same or different. The point is that we can’t make assumptions that we and the customers are the same.

How I prefer to be communicated with, how I prefer a situation be handled, how I prefer to get a need met may be the same as 70% of my customers, but what about the other 30%? If I believe that they are like me, I could deliver some pretty lousy service to those 30%.

This is when we talk about the importance on not assuming the customer is just like us. This is when trying to convey empathy is so important. Because customers want their need or issue addressed, but many also want it addressed in a certain manner, and if we don’t take the initiative to identify not only what they want but how they want it received or handled, we could have a dissatisfied customer.

Don’t just describe what you’ll do for the customer, but confirm that will work. Don’t just assume how you’ll communicate with them, but ask their preference. Don’t just overlook the particulars of their situation, ask them for the details.

To deliver great customer service, we have to avoid the assumption they are like us and – instead – confirm the reality. Assume they’re different; that focus will force you to ask them about themselves, their needs, their issues, and their preferences. It will put you in a learning mindset, and it will make you better at serving them in the best manner possible.

Assume the customer is different from you.


Add a Hint of Salt and a Pinch of WOW – 2/25/14 TOW

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The restaurant always did something a little special. It was the free dessert, the personalized menu, the visit from the manager, an appetizer that was compliments of the chef, or the upgrade to a nicer table.

Every time it was a WOW to the customer. We define a “WOW” moment as an “Unexpected Positive Event.” And while these WOWs may be obvious for a restaurant, many of us don’t work in restaurants. We work at events, at colleges, at hospitals, and at banks. We work in government, in manufacturing, in clinics, and in sports.

Does this mean the WOW’s not possible? No, it just means that the WOW sometimes isn’t a financial expenditure, but it’s still possible. Zappos strives to give each customer a WOW moment. Surely they don’t spend $10 per customer to WOW them.

So what UPE can you create for your customer that costs virtually nothing? Put your twist on some of these ideas:

  • Stand up when they approach your desk (this RARELY happens nowadays).
  • Convey sincere excitement when they walk in the door (how happy do the people at the vet seem when you bring in your kitten for an exam?).
  • Come out of your office to greet the customer (it makes them feel important)
  • Respond to voice mails and e-mail messages as soon as they’re received, particularly if there’s an issue (speed is vital in Service Recovery).
  • Provide them some “educational” information that enables them to have a better experience in working with your organization (it’s not just about reacting to their need; it’s also about being proactive and helpful).
  • Call somebody by name throughout the discussion (it makes them feel that they matter to you).
  • Sincerely thank them for their business – noting that you really appreciate their being your customer (be patient in the close).
  • Send them a handwritten “Thank You” note after the encounter (another RARE activity nowadays).
  • Call them after an appointment to check-in, gauge their experience, or ask if they’re enjoying the use of the product (WOW with the follow-up).

Think of the little things that are UNEXPECTED but so good that they make the customer remember you positively.

Think of something that brands your encounter as a “WOW!”


Develop an “Always Culture” – 2/18/14 TOW

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Many of our healthcare clients are adopting the concept of creating an “Always Culture.” This movement is often in response to a change in Federal Government reimbursement to hospitals that is based in part on the results of patient satisfaction surveys. Those surveys are structured to have patients evaluate whether staff, nurses, and physicians “Always” do certain activities (as opposed to “Usually, Sometimes, or Never”). To maximize reimbursement, the healthcare organization wants a high percentage of their patients answering “Always.”

Now the concept of the “Always Culture” has been around for years, in and out of healthcare. The way we’ve described it is that you don’t want customer service to be a light switch (where you turn it on with clients and turn it off with co-workers); instead, it needs to be an all-the-time thing.

But regardless of what industries use the phrase, it’s still a meaningful concept.

The idea of “Always” implies that we’re CONSISTENT (hopefully Consistent Excellent) across departments, shifts, product lines, and people. That consistency requires that the organization hires those individuals with the propensity to be customer service-oriented, sets expectations of what is a great customer experience, trains ALL staff on the key principles and techniques, monitors performance in ALL areas, and rewards not only the “WOW” but also the Consistent Excellence. It requires that we hold those accountable that keep us from Consistent Excellence, and that we have leaders that understand that they must model the practices they expect of others.

Organizations striving for the Always Culture must continuously communicate the expectations, the goals, and the performance – celebrating success whenever possible.

But – in the end – “Always” comes down to the individual. Is it a habit to serve, a habit to care, a habit to be inquisitive, and a habit to be empathetic? Is it a habit to be responsive, a habit to proactively communicate, a habit to quickly resolve issues, and a habit to appreciate others?

Create your own “Always Culture.” Make excellence a habit.