alternative solution

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” – 5/28/19

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week Please leave a comment


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 co-workers are not perfect, and our solutions to customer issues are rarely perfect.

The customer wants you to fix their issue or address their need, and often they are telling you HOW you should fix that issue or address that need. Frequently, their solutions won’t work. You can’t always waive a policy, change a process, or do something in 5 minutes that takes 5 days. You have to say No.

But there are ways to say No that are giving the right kind of No. Here are 3 quick steps to consider:

Convey Why the No: Before you say No to their solution, make sure they understand WHY their idea won’t work. In a professional way, explain the rationale so they understand it’s not a matter of you being obstinate. There’s an objectivity to your response.

Link Your Solution to Their Goal: They may suggest a certain process, but what is their goal? They may want something done, but what is their goal? They may say they want it in 5 minutes, but what is their goal? Their goal may be having a great event, getting a remedy before they hold a meeting, having a working product, getting financing for a house, or feeling better. If you can understand their desired outcome and get them to think about the goal instead of the solution, then you can link your solution to their goal.

Offer the Options: Finally, suggest alternatives that achieve their goal. Particularly if you can offer more than one solution, it gives them some control over deciding the next step. Even if there’s only one solution, by attaching it to their goal, they’re envisioning the eventual success.

Taking this approach will keep the temperature of the conversation low, put you in control, and lead to more productive and positive conversations.

Give the right kind of “No” response.

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Employee Runs for a Dog Run – 3/12/19

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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 escape, a friend gave me the idea of creating a dog run.

Essentially, you tie a wire between 2 trees, and then you hook a long leash to the wire so that the dog can run around out back even if you’re not out with him so that you won’t worry about him running off.

The more YouTube videos I watched, the more excited I got about the prospect of creating a dog run. Also, the more YouTube videos I watched, the more clear it became that I never learned how to tie a good knot like I would have if I had been a Boy Scout.

So, I went to the local hardware store and decided to claim my own ignorance. I laid out my plan to an employee, and the gentlemen listened to me, he helped me to concoct an approach to constructing the dog run. Piece by piece, we discussed the wire, the long leash, how to secure the wire to the tree in a way that wouldn’t hurt the tree, etc.

He was patient, seemed interested, and gave me multiple options to consider. It was a huge help, I thanked him, and I walked away toward another section of the store to look for one other item I needed before checking out.

About 2 minutes later, on the exact opposite side of the store, the employee came running toward me. After I had left his section, he had continued to give my project some thought, and he realized that I needed a hook not only for what would attach the long leash to the wire but also one that would attach the other end of the long leash to my dog’s collar. That would’ve been a pretty frustrating project if I had set everything up perfectly but had no way to attach the lease to my dog’s collar – YIKES!

I went to the hardware store knowing what I wanted to accomplish, and I was engaged by an employee who seemed interested in my project, gave me options, and actually ran after me to ensure I had everything I needed.

Sometimes it’s nice just to be able to tell a good customer service story.

Be that employee willing to run after a customer to give them some extra help.

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Retain through Responsiveness – 1/15/19

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In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. She didn’t report the issue on any social media site. She didn’t yell at the employees she contacted. She simply took her business elsewhere.

She said “You have to make customers as happy as you can because there are so many options out there. What’s going to stop them from going somewhere else?”

That’s a great question! What could keep your customers from going elsewhere? The short answer is “nothing,” but that’s not necessarily the accurate answer.

By saying that there’s nothing you can do, you’re effectively saying that you have no control over those things that impact the customer’s decision. And that’s just not true. In the vast majority of cases, you and your organization have strong abilities to influence those factors that impact the customer’s decision to stay or to go.

In this case, the customer left because the company was not responsive. They were difficult to get in touch with online. When she switched from the online attempts at customer service to the telephone attempts, it was not a smooth transition. The lack of responsiveness in rectifying her issue pushed her away.

Many of those things are within your control or at least within the company’s control. You and your organization are the ones who identify the process of investigating issues. You all are the ones who can offer some kind of compensation or alternative solution. You are the ones that empathize and convey in your tone and your actions that you care about the customer and are truly sorry for the inconvenience and the issue. You and the organization are the ones who help to make this person believe that the issue that happened in the past won’t happen again.

Take ownership over whether your customers decide to stay or decide to leave for a competitor.

Look at your complaint resolution attitudes and actions; observe your service recovery approaches. Look at the speed with which you and others in the organization respond to the problems your internal reporting identify or your external customers conveyed through their complaints.

Retain more customers by more quickly responding to their issues.

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