alternative solution

I Think I Think is Wrong - 10/20/20


I think that’s not going to be feasible.  I think we can do that.  I think you’re on the right track.  Methinks thou dost protest too much. Please forgive the Shakespearean reference, but it seems to fit well here.  When we are talking to co-workers and customers, and we’re giving Read more

Be Slowest, and Be the Best – Chick-fil-A - 10/13/20


About one week ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article that analyzed the results of a SeeLevel HX research engagement on the customer experience at fast food restaurants.  The results were seemingly contradictory.  The fast food chain with by far the overall best drive-thru experience was Chick-fil-A, and yet Read more

Connect During Customer Service Week - 10/6/20


It’s Customer Service Week…woohoo!  This week should be all about the customers we serve and the staff who serve them.  This should be about conveying we value other people, and – hopefully – having other people convey that they value us.  It’s a week about people – about us. This Read more

Temper the Tone of THE VOICE - 9/29/20


The television show The Voice is a singing competition.  The opening episodes of every season begin with individuals singing while judges have their backs to the singer.  The judges can’t see the singer, so they are evaluating the performer purely based on their voice. Oftentimes, when the judge turns around, Read more

Keep On Going - 9/22/20


Thomas Edison once said “Many of life’s failures are experiences by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” You are close to success – Keep On Going. Winston Churchill once said "If you’re going through hell, keep going."  This quote has been taken Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events


Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential Read more

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Plant the Seed of Customer Service Success – 6/7/16 TOW

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


After many stories over the years of poor customer service in a big box home improvement store, here’s a positive story – it’s a story about how ideas sometimes are better than answers.

If you’ve ever been a novice gardener (which I am) somehow heading up a community garden (which I am) and seeing plants having their tops eaten off about 3 feet above ground (which is happening), you know the pain I’m feeling. The entire community garden is fenced in, so there’s only one way in – OVER the fence.

Yes, deer are jumping over our 7-foot fence like it was a 6” curb, and they’re having some glorious meals! Since I’m not any kind of expert gardener nor an expert in all things deer, I Googled my heart out only to find some less-than-appealing solutions often having to do with other animals or Irish Spring soap.

The most logical suggestion is to raise the fence.

So I went to a local big box home improvement store and wandered around somewhat aimlessly when – shock of shocks – an employee walked up to me and asked if he could help.

“I’m not even sure what I’m looking for,” I replied, “but here’s my issue.” I explained the issue and told him about my thought of how to raise the 22 posts around the garden by 3 feet using a particular type of tapered metal spike.

If he were to answer my question about whether they had such a spike, the answer would have been “No.”

Instead, he offered multiple ideas, multiple options – all were ways to raise the height with different types of materials, different ways to secure this additional 3-feet of fence to the posts. He didn’t answer a question about the spike – he offered a multitude of sound ideas to address the problem.

This is the 20th century, and many people can get an answer from the internet, so when they go to you for service – to help with a need or issue – they often need something more than an answer. They want creative ideas that lead to options and ultimately – a cost-effective quality solution.

When faced with a customer’s question, assess the question to understand the “why” of it. What they may really be seeking is your idea, your creativity, your solution. These are the times when your “No” won’t help them, but your consultative support will.

Know when a customer wants an idea, not just an answer.

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Go for the Hard Yes Over the Easy No – 4/12/16 TOW

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The customer was telling his business partners about what a great job the lender did for him. Before that, the customer was happy and joking with his account representative, Jay. Before that, Jay was getting him the paperwork that provided the funding the customer needed.

Prior to that, Jay offered the customer a couple options for funding his equipment purchases. Prior to that, in a response to a question from the account representative, the customer told Jay his business goal. Prior to that, Jay said No.

Jay said No because the customer had asked for a specific type of loan for which he wasn’t qualified.

We’re tracking here – we’re tracking back from the positive Word-of-Mouth that Jay was receiving to the inception of the conversation – when the customer asked for something that could not be done.

Jay opted for the “Hard Yes” over the “Easy No.” He said No initially because policy warranted the response, but he moved deeper into the conversation. He probed for the core need. He cared enough to ask the questions that led him to an answer.

Follow Jay’s lead. Go for the Hard Yes over the Easy No.

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Have a HOFAS Talk – 11/10/15 TOW

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I was dealing with an issue at a non-profit organization where I volunteer, and the employees were in a disagreement about how to handle a situation. There was no shortage of opinions, and the rumor mill was rampant. Much of what was said behind the proverbial closed door was negative about “them,” whoever “them” was to the one speaking.

To begin to deal with the issue, we began to facilitate small group conversations. The goal was for people with differing opinions to talk out in the open with each other so – eventually – everyone would have a fuller understanding and some empathy for others. This would create the platform from which progress and decisions could be made.

I bring this up because the 5 core principles we used in the conversations could be applied to most significant issues you might have with an irate customer or co-worker. The acronym to remember is HOFAS:

  • History – Get the facts of the situation, the background clear. Ensure that you’re starting the conversation with the same understanding.
  • Opinions – Encourage people to offer their perspective. Try to avoid arguing with their opinions; remember that those are just opinions, not facts, and people are generally entitled to opinions.
  • Feelings – Let them get the emotions out. If people can vent, they can usually blow off steam and begin to calm down.
  • Alternatives – Identify potential next steps, sometimes soliciting their ideas for resolutions, and often trying to identify more than one solution in order to offer everyone choices and flexibility.
  • Solutions – Determine which action to take, and which solution to pursue. Confirm what you all decided would be the next steps and timeframes.

 
You want to start these conversations by noting the 5 core principles and sharing that all comments should be provided in a manner that’s helpful and respectful. This reinforces the desired tone of the conversation and suggests that the discussion be about the issue, not the individual.

When dealing with the irate customer or co-worker, ensure the other person gets to talk. People want to be heard and to feel that they matter.

Have a HOFAS talk.

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