Customer Service Tip of the Week

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

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

More Confident Customers are Less Nervous – 10/29/13 TOW

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It was just going to be a minor procedure, but Damon was still nervous. He had a hard time concentrating on what he was reading in the waiting room, and the minutes of wait seemed interminable. When the nurse came to the waiting room to bring Damon back to get prepped, his anxiety levels slowly began to fall. The nurse smiled and introduced herself and asked how he was doing. As they walked, Damon was asked several questions, with the nurse confirming his situation and the procedure that was going to take place.

She conveyed her knowledge of his details in those confirming questions, and then told Damon a little about herself, the doctor, and their experience in performing the procedure. She noted how many patients they had cared for in similar situations, and how the patients often remarked about how surprisingly good they felt right after the procedure.

The nurse then asked Damon what his understanding was of how long it would take and what the post-procedure recovery would entail. After Damon explained his understanding, the nurse used his words and his explanation and transitioned to a discussion of the process, the steps, and the timeframes.

Through this 1-on-1, personalized discussion, several things happened. He had formed a personal rapport with the nurse. He felt confident in the nurse, doctor, and the organization. Damon had a clear picture of what was to happen and how long it would take. He felt like he could ask any question and get a specific answer. He was more confident and less anxious.

Soon thereafter, it was time for the procedure. The doctor walked in wearing a surgical mask and carrying. . .a chainsaw (just kidding – it is Halloween week after all!).

Address nervousness and anxiety with confidence-building communications.

 


How to Create Focus and Direction – 10/22/13 TOW

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Prior to co-founding CSS, I was a management consultant for about ten years. At my previous consulting firm, they asked me to develop and deliver training for new employees on Consulting Skills and Professionalism. It was an honor to be asked and a fun course to teach.

In looking through some of the materials from that training recently, I came across a module that addressed keeping Focus and Direction, and the tips from that training should resonate for those in customer service as well.

Oftentimes as a consultant, especially if you’re inquisitive and creative, you can create a lot of ideas, want to make many improvements, and look to promote change for the better. Those attributes and actions can also be applied to many who have a customer service role or orientation. The problem lies in the fact that all that creativity and focus on continuous improvement can create TOO MUCH WORK!

What we promoted in the training years ago to create Focus and Direction were three key questions:

  • Who’s the customer?
  • What’s the need?
  • What’s the priority?

 
The concept was that your customers and their needs should set a focus; their priorities (or if certain customers or needs are bigger priorities) should help to sort out our priorities. The direction we should go should be greatly impacted by the direction our customers desire.

So the next time you have too many items on your “To Do” list for the day, look at those items in light of these three questions.

Create a Focus and Direction for yourself by doing those things that address key needs of key customers.

 


Dan the Yard Man Keeps the Customer Moving – 10/15/13 TOW

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When “Dan the Yard Man” came to Lori’s home for a quick consultation, she was looking for advice. Many parts of the yard were having issues – grass not growing, erosion in the dirt, etc. Dan’s company maintains the feed on the yard and does aeration, but Lori had put off aerating her yard until she got more of a game plan for how to fix its issues.

As Lori listened to Dan, she realized two things clearly – what he could do and what he could not do. She also learned one other thing from Dan – he can actually tell you “No” in such a way that you feel good about it!

Dan told Lori what he could address on the lawn with soil testing, fertilizer, and weed killer when needed. But it was amazing how he handled the discussion of what he could NOT do:

  • He couldn’t aerate soon because their schedule was booked 6 weeks out, but he suggested how Lori could get some seed germinating on her own in some of the tough areas.
  • He couldn’t grow regular fescue grass in some of the shady areas, so he noted how he had been transitioning to shade grass.
  • Dan could not promise that he could get grass to grow in some especially shaded areas because they were only getting 1-2 hours of sun each day, but he suggested that Lori ask the “tree guys” she was calling about where they felt their tree trimming could impact the amount of sun the lawn receives.
  • Dan couldn’t guarantee that grass could ever grow in current conditions on the left side of the house, but he suggested that Lori consider a natural area similar to what she had on the right side of the house.

Great customer service does not always require that we find a way to personally say “Yes” to every customer request. Sometimes great customer service is about knowing an alternative when you have to say “No.”

When you have to say “No,” keep the customer moving to the next step.