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

Appreciate – 11/26/13 TOW

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As an American, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and there are lots of reasons. One is that there’s a lot of family time, there’s football on TV, you’re usually playing outside – in the DAYLIGHT, and the food…oh, the food…

But there are problems with all these benefits. First, family time is…well…family time – as good a source of stress as was ever invented. Then football on TV is okay, unless your team loses. Playing outside is fun (actually, I can’t think of anything bad about that), and food? Well food is always good – unless you eat too much or unless you get tired of leftovers consisting of turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, turkey burgers, and turkey lo mein.

The point is that even the best of times can be viewed through a negative lens.

The best lens for seeing most any time, however, is through the lens of thanks. There are always reasons to complain, always issues and illnesses, always people who have more – but so often the most inspirational stories are about those who have the issues, illnesses, of those who have little or have hardships, and yet they still succeed, they still persevere, they’re still happy or joy-filled.

Those stories are inspirational often because they highlight people who focus more of their mindset on being appreciative of what they have than of focusing on their issues and on what they lack.

In the world of customer service, we are fighting fires – the complaints and last minute requests. We’re often the downstream recipients of upstream causes of issues. We’re too often working 3rd shift or needing to provide customer access 24/7 so we can be responsive. And while we can focus on those negatives, to keep our positive outlook (and our sanity), let’s try to take this time of year as a reminder to appreciate.

Appreciate those that help us, those that support us in and out of the workplace. Those that confirm the value in what we do and who truly care about us. I don’t know who “those” are in your lives, but let’s think of those people, appreciate them, and – this Thanksgiving – tell them that we appreciate them.

Give thanks – literally – to others.


The Art of Dealing with…Yourself – 11/19/13 TOW

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I read an article in the most recent Entrepreneur Magazine issue titled “The art of dealing with difficult people.” Although the article was big on attempted humor and small on specifics, I really liked that fact that much of the article had one key focus (and I’m paraphrasing here) – most of the success you have in dealing with difficult people lies in the success you have in dealing with yourself.

Robin and Mary might both have to “deal with” Jeremy – the same ornery or obnoxious (or otherwise aggravating) individual – but Robin deals with him well, and Mary appears to be internally combusting. The reason is largely because Robin deals with the “difficult person” differently or better than Mary.

Maybe it’s just Robin’s natural “way” of handling situations, but maybe she’s more patient, maybe she’s more empathetic of Jeremy, maybe she doesn’t take things personally, or maybe Robin breathes fully in stressful situations. It could be that Robin thinks of the end goal of a conversation and is more intent on the end goal than the often-painful journey.

On the other hand, Mary might go into conversations with Jeremy anticipating a fight, and she gets upset even before the talk begins. Maybe Mary doesn’t know when she’s about to get upset, and it boils over before she realizes what’s happening. Maybe Mary wants to correct every Jeremy misstatement, or maybe she wants to win every battle. Maybe she is just principled and doesn’t think jerks like Jeremy should win.

I’m not saying that the Robins of the world are always right and the Marys are always wrong. Rather, if we want to effectively deal with difficult people, we have to focus more of our efforts on the person in those conversations that we can control – ourselves.

To deal best with others, learn more about yourself first.


Make Your Team’s STARS Align – 11/12/13 TOW

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We often talk about individual skills, principles, and philosophies that make an individual GREAT at customer service – we even wrote a book on it! But so much of customer service requires that we’re a great teammate to others, working together for the good of the customer and the company.

With that in mind, to be a great teammate, make sure your S.T.A.R.S. align:

  • Speed – Be responsive to teammates’ requests, voice mails, e-mails, issues. Be quick to them so they can be quick with their customers.
  • Take Ownership – If an issue or request comes to you from a customer, vendor, or other department, accept the responsibility of behalf of your teammate. Act on the need instead of telling the customer to look elsewhere for support.
  • Attitude – Realize that those same customer service attributes we promote with clients need to be used with teammates – be positive, open, and focused on what CAN be done.
  • Respect – Understand that your teammates’ responsibilities, their time, and their goals are important, too. Respect them with body language and tone, and respect what they do with your quality, responsiveness, and completeness.
  • Support – Be willing to jump in and help a teammate in need, willing to complete a project or take a handoff of a customer. In teamwork, it’s about the “we” more than the “me.”

 

To be GREAT at customer service, work hard to be a great teammate to others.