Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

Quoting Einstein – 9/24/13 TOW

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Einstein once said “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

With that in mind, think about your organization’s (or your own) current issues. . .

Your bank is losing accounts. Your team is losing season ticket holders. Your municipality is getting more complaints than ever, or maybe your hospital’s patient satisfaction ratings are dropping.

You personally are seeing the quality of your work decrease; your co-workers aren’t as responsive to your requests as normal; you’re feeling less organized, or you’re getting more criticism than you’re used to hearing.

You want to find a solution to these issues, but – using Einstein’s quote – you need to approach the solution with different thinking, different questions, a different process than you used to create the problem.

Now none of us intend to “create the problem,” but we do typically create a process, a program, a philosophy, or a way of prioritizing. We do have a method to use to gain input, to make decisions, or to execute a plan.

So here are some considerations for how to solve problems with a different kind of thinking. If you don’t use these currently, consider them:

  • Have a customer advisory group help you in better understanding the problem, identifying potential solutions, or “testing” programs/products/processes prior to implementation.
  • Ask front-line employees what issues they’re hearing and how the organization can more quickly identify chronic problems and develop solutions.
  • Look at how different industries deal with problems similar to yours. What could colleges learn about retention strategies from sports teams? What could hospitals learn from manufacturers about continuous improvement? What could a bank learn from a high-end retailer about the customer experience?
  • Ask an employee of some business you patronize how they always seem to be in a great mood or how they’re able to respond so quickly to requests.
  • Ask a vendor how they maintain such a consistently high level of quality.
  • Identify different “hats” to wear in analyzing a problem, and get a group of people to look at the same problem wearing these pre-defined hats. For example, have all members of the group analyze the problem using their “Data Hat” (They all look at the problem, its root causes, and solutions based on what the data’s conveying). Other examples could include: People Hat, Process Hat, Communications Hat, Materials Hat, Motivation Hat, etc.

When problems arise, find new ways to overcome old issues.

 


Educate Forward – 9/17/13 TOW

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When Bill brought his daughter Jenna to tumbling, it was for a make-up class. Jenna didn’t take a couple classes during the summer that they’d paid for, and Bill’s wife mentioned that there were a couple make-up classes available.

So Bill walked up to the window to ask the receptionist if Jenna could use one of her make-up classes that evening. The receptionist, Rebecca, asked if they had called or e-mailed in advance to confirm Jenna could drop-in for a class, and Bill responded “uh. . .no. . .sorry.”

This is when the customer service aspect of the experience got really, really. . .great!

This was a situation where the customer was wrong; the policy was for the customer to call ahead if he wanted to use one of the make-up classes just to ensure there was going to be space available in the class. The customer didn’t do that, but what made the service great was that Rebecca conveyed that she hoped there was space in the class. Rebecca didn’t criticize the customer for not calling ahead, but she did educate the customer forward about how he needed to do things differently in the future. She still smiled, had a positive attitude, walked out of the area to go check with the instructor to ask about availability in the class for Jenna, and came back with excitement when the answer was “Yes.”

Sometimes the customer is wrong. But that doesn’t mean our attitude needs to go negative. Sometimes we can correct the customer (“educate forward” is the term I use), and do it so professionally that the customer walks away happy.

When the customer is wrong, don’t let your attitude tumble.


Brilliance Among Mediocrity – 9/10/13 TOW

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Jennifer was witnessing a horrible customer experience first-hand – she was at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Luckily she’s at the point where she only has to go to the DMV every 8 years, but when she does go, her expectations for timeliness, attitudes, process, facility – everything – drop.

After waiting in line for 45 minutes and now having finally entered the office, Jennifer was in shock. Now remember that her expectations were rock bottom, so could the experience be worse than even she anticipated?

Sure the waits were horrible; the stark room with a barely functioning television and hard metal chairs were pretty lousy, too. The employees with the glazed stares or the monotone voices didn’t impress either. But the shock wasn’t the result of any of that; the shock was that amidst all the mediocrity, Jennifer saw a flash of brilliance. It was like a light – literally – like there was a brighter light around one person. Her name was Marie.

Marie was a DMV staffer who was administering a test, and Jennifer noted that Marie smiled ear-to-ear almost non-stop. She stood and introduced herself every time someone walked up to her work station to take a test. Her voice made her sound excited to see the customer. Marie even sounded encouraging during the test (“I hope this goes well for you” and “I’m sure you’ll do fine” and “You did great!” after the test was done).

It was as if Disney had transported one of its cast members to Jennifer’s DMV, but Marie was real, and she was sincere. Maybe Marie stood out because she was in the midst of mediocre customer service, or maybe she stood out because she conveyed she cared about the person. She did the same task as the co-workers sitting around her, but she did it in such a way that most of her customers smiled as they left. Most of her customers seemed to have more energy. Most of her customers fed off her positive nature.

We all do tasks, but no matter how good we are at those activities, we can always bring brilliance to the interaction with our customers.

Be brilliant, and watch your brilliance get reflected from your customers.