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

C.A.R.E. for Customers – 2/11/14 TOW

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In our analysis of customer satisfaction data for a client recently, we identified the survey attributes which had the strongest correlation to the customer’s feeling that the organization cared about them as an individual.

These “Care Perception Drivers” fit nicely into an acronym (C.A.R.E.), and we shared the analysis in a brief educational session with our client. Maybe these tips can help you, too:

  • C = Communicate before and after the transaction. The customers appreciated it when the employees engaged them upfront and proactively thanked them or addressed them in follow-up communications after the transaction. It’s not just about the task; it’s the start-to-finish experience.
  • A = Ask them about themselves and their situation. Customers perceived that the employees cared if they were inquisitive and sought to learn about what made that customer unique.
  • R = Relate on their level. The customer cares about the customer, so relate to them in a way they’re comfortable – with your tone and body language, tailoring your style to appeal more to them.
  • E = Educate them on how to have a great experience. Customers aren’t usually experts in your business – you’re the expert. So they appreciate tips or directions that can maximize their enjoyment.

When customers feel that you care, they’re more likely to come back to you, to be open to your suggestions, and even to cut you some slack when something goes wrong.

Ask yourself “Have I conveyed I C.A.R.E.?”


Fix Fast to Reduce Stress – 2/4/14 TOW

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This tip is all about you. The vast majority of the advice we provide involves helping the customer, serving them better, or the benefits to the organization or the customer for creating a great experience.

For example, when we discuss service recovery – dealing with complaints or issues – we often talk about how quick resolution increases your chance for customer retention. We note that many customers feel better about the company when an issue is resolved quickly than if no issue had ever happened.

But when you think of service recovery and their impact on you, oftentimes you think of stress. When you’re on the phone or face-to-face with a griping customer, you may think “I’m dealing with an emotional customer” (or a raving lunatic, however you like to describe them). Your heart starts to pump, your temperature starts to rise; it’s not a situation that many of us find comfortable. It can create stress.

So when you’re considering how to deal with the situation, there is a benefit to you to resolve it quickly. A fast fix may reduce your stress. The longer the delay in identifying a solution, moving the customer to the next step, making that fix occur, the more time that you are dealing with the emotions, thinking, worrying.

On a more basic level, the longer it takes to deal with a complaint, the more likely you are to have to add items to a To Do list, to play phone tag with others, to send e-mails flying back and forth to co-worker and customer.

Please don’t misconstrue this advice to be to “give the customer whatever they want to get them off your back.” Instead, when faced with an opportunity to call the customer back the next day or take care of it while they’re on the phone, take care of it then. When given the options to resolve it over the next week or to begin the process now, begin. When you have a chance to get them in touch with your co-worker immediately or take their information and tell them someone will call them later in the week, handoff now.

Cut your stress by looking for the faster path to the fix.


Give the Customer a Plan B – 1/28/14 TOW

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I was walking into my local bank branch a couple Saturdays ago to make a deposit. While I usually go through the drive-through, I didn’t have any deposit slips left, so I had to get some new ones at the bank. When I entered the lobby, I got the feeling of dread in my chest – 20 people in line ahead of me. I stopped, took a deep breath to calm the impatient side of me, and proceeded to the line to become customer #21.

After three minutes, I assessed the situation (3 tellers, 20 people in line, nobody had yet moved). I mentally calculated a wait time that would stretch into lunch if not dinner. And then I got an idea. I picked up a few deposit slips, and I left.

Sitting in the car, I filled out a slip, went to the drive-through (where there was NOBODY in line), and was on my way in less than 2 minutes.

At this point I realized that it would have been wonderful if an employee in the bank lobby had stated to the 21 of us in line “There’s no wait at the drive-through.”

The lesson learned? This is the 21st century. This is the era of an exorbitant number of customer service channels for most businesses (walk-in, phone, drive-through, self-service, web, e-mail, social media, etc.). And many customers who are in one channel are going to get very upset with a business because that method of obtaining service is slow, cumbersome, manual, or simply not a great customer experience.

The lesson learned is that businesses need to find ways to educate the customers on the other channels on an ongoing basis and real-time, so that the customer doesn’t feel trapped and doesn’t take out the bad experience on the company.

This involves having an ongoing Touch Point Plan with clients that includes periodic educational communications about the other channels, how to access them, and their benefits. This requires that companies know real-time what channels are performing like greased lightning and which ones are stuck in neutral. And this requires that employees get in the habit of “Educating Forward” – where they let customers know other channels available to them in case the preferred method of service is delayed or backlogged.

When it comes to providing a positive experience, sometimes the best path is the one that helps them avoid the bad experience. Give the customer a Plan B.