Business Advice

When Customers are…Jerks - 7/14/20


Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have Read more

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected Read more

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

A Great Carolinas Customer Service Example

Posted on in Business Advice, Carolinas Please leave a comment

There are many examples of great customer service in North Carolina and South Carolina. One organization that has a strong presence in these states and delivers outstanding service is Chick-fil-A.  This Southeastern-based organization has a reputation built from the experience of its customers, where you get consistently good service no matter which restaurant you patronize.  You seem to get consistently courteous, respectful, and personalized service no matter which employee you engage in the drive-thru.  You constantly hear their branded slogan “my pleasure” whenever you thank them for something.  They offer their name to you when you place your order at the drive-thru, and they present a very clean and welcoming appearance when you eat inside.

How does Chick-fil-A do this? There are many methods they use, not the least of which is how they attract their personnel.  We’re familiar with how they will proactively go to particular schools or organizations to recruit staff for their restaurants.  This is done so that they have more control over their applicant pool by seeking out those groups more likely to have personable and professional individuals participating.

They have orientation and training which all staff attend which focuses strongly on the organization’s mission and vision to ensure that everybody understands why they are working there and how important the customer is to them.  The mission in part is to ‘have a positive impact on everyone with whom we come in contact.’ That could be the mission statement for any kind of business in the world, not just a restaurant.  It doesn’t say anything about chickens or waffle fries, but it says a lot about the mindset that it wants its employees to have.

To many customers, the fact that they are closed on Sundays is an example of the organization’s values as well.  And it is also a perk to employees.

Finally, it’s an organization with a strong work ethic – they have the motto “if you’re leanin’, you should be cleanin’.”  They try to promote the need for employees to be proactive and look for opportunities to do something positive for the business or its customers, even when the day is a little slow.

Take the Chick-fil-A challenge.  Go to a restaurant today, and see what you can learn from them to apply to your business.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service?  See more information at:  http://www.cssamerica.com/


Why the World of Customer Service Stinks

Posted on in Business Advice, World of Customer Service Please leave a comment

I hear so many comments about how the current state of customer service is poor and far below what it used to be, so I thought it was important to talk about some of the main reasons why customer service is so bad nowadays.

Here are my top 10 reasons in no particular order:

  1. Many people are not raised in such a way that they know how to communicate with courtesy and respect.
  2. Individuals are much more self-centered today than in the past, and in customer service, you need to be more other-centered.
  3. Even with all the MBAs that exist in the business leaders of today, too few of them truly understand the financial benefits of high levels of customer satisfaction and retention.
  4. Customer service still is not as sexy as sales and marketing.  It seems more exciting to ring the bell with a new sale than to keep a customer by serving them well.
  5. Customers’ expectations for turnaround time is much higher today, and that has caused organizations – which have not changed the reality of their turnaround times and responsiveness – to meet fewer expectations.
  6. Since there are so many different ways to deliver customer service and deliver products with the advent of the internet, IVR telephone systems, and other technologically-driven means, with variety comes complexity, and with complexity come quality concerns and with consistency in any business.
  7. Organizations care too much about short-term transaction-oriented costs and too little about long-term relationship-oriented value and profitability.
  8. Building World Class Customer Service organizations is something that’s rarely taught from a strategic perspective.
  9. There is an arrogance of thought that customer service is something very easy to do and only needs to be done by low-paid, less educated individuals.  In fact, delivering exceptional service can be very complex and yet very fun, and requires individuals who can quickly change their mindset, change their focus, and have a balance of technical knowledge, organizational knowledge, and customer focus.
  10. Most organizations, especially small businesses, are born from entrepreneurs who know how to sell, sell, sell or who love a product and want to deliver that product.  These leaders are either acquisition-focused or product-focused, but to sustain those businesses, they at some point have to mature as a business and transition towards customer service and relationship building.

Service may stink out there, but those of us who care about it will always have a tremendous niche and tremendous value in the business world.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service?  See more information at:  http://www.cssamerica.com/


Seek to Understand

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

One of the best tips I can give anyone new to the world of customer service is to “seek to understand.” When you think of the phrase “seek to understand,” you realize that it focuses on one person trying to understand something else or trying to learn about someone else.

When you think about poor customer service, you think about somebody taking a complaint personally. If you take the complaint personally, you’re more focused on how this impacts you rather than seeking to understand how it impacts the other person. When you think of poor customer service, you think of an employee getting into an argument with a customer when it should be easy to avoid the argument. But it is difficult to get into an argument with another person if you are truly seeking to understand. Because seeking to understand focuses on learning from the other and rarely involves the negative emotions of anger or hostility. 

When you think about poor customer service, you think about an employee who is impatient or seems rushed. But people who seek to understand are patient, they try to learn about the other person and their situation. When you think about poor customer service, you think about the employee talking on their cell phone or who is ignoring the customer because of some personal conversation with a co-worker. But employees who seek to understand welcome opportunities to help customers with needs or issues, and they seek to understand what the specifics of those issues and needs are and how to address them.

When you think about poor customer service, you think about employees who do not understand their processes and who don’t understand their products. Employees who seek to understand try to learn what the processes are like so they can work with the customers in the processes. They try to learn what their products are all about so that they can effectively convey that information to the customers.

If you want one great overriding thought to help guide you through your day in serving your customers, Seek to Understand.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service?  See more information at:  http://www.cssamerica.com/