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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

Rudeness is an Issue – How to Avoid it – 8/11/15 TOW

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


According to a recent times.com article, there are several top reasons why customers get frustrated with customer service. Tied for the biggest frustration is dealing with rude customer service representatives. Survey results noted that 75% of customers are “highly annoyed by rude or condescending employees.”

While many of us feel that we’re generally pleasant people, even the most pleasant individuals can run the risk of coming off as rude or condescending. This perception by others can come from the tone of voice, the actual words used, or body language in face-to-face situations.

In order to ensure that the answer you give or solution provided does not reflect negatively on you, here are several things you can do to avoid being perceived as rude or condescending:

  • Watch Subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) Tone Issues – Avoid the “huffs” or frustrated sighs, and don’t let your booming voice dominate them.
  • Avoid Using “you” if Discussing Blame – Don’t do this: “If you would have just done ABC, this wouldn’t have been an issue.”
  • Convey Some Empathy – There’s a difference between a coldly delivered “That’s against policy” and an empathetic “Unfortunately we’re not able to do ABC for this reason, but let’s talk about what we CAN do for you.”
  • Effectively Move to the Hold or Transfer – Don’t put someone on hold or transfer unless you first ask and explain why you’re making the move.
  • Consider the Body Language – Avoid the eye rolls, folded arms, smirks, a lack of focus on the customer, and – ugh – putting your hand up in the “stop” position.
  • Don’t Rush the Customer – This is by far the most frequent cause of perceived rudeness – even when customers are dealing with kind customer service representatives. Lacking patience, talking quickly, giving short answers, interrupting the other person, and not confirming that the customer got their need met are all drivers of that perception of a rude employee.

 
Avoid rudeness – the customer’s hot button with customer service.

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Sell the Facts – 4/14/15 TOW

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


If there’s one thing I’ve heard repeatedly throughout the years it’s that MANY customer service people hate to sell. I’ve also heard that great salesmen are great at “servicing” their accounts. Now as “customer service people,” we can all agree that sales people who have a service-focus should perform better. We’re wired to serve, so naturally we’d feel that sales people would benefit from some similar wiring.

But customer service people don’t like to sell. We say: “It’s pushy. It’s product-driven, not people-focused. It’s uncomfortable. It’s me-focused instead of you-focused.”

In many ways those thoughts are correct, but we have to get over those stereotypes about selling and sales people. For customer service people to be the best we can be, we have to learn how to sell.

Think of selling using a different word – persuasion. We are often giving customers options to consider. They can renew their account today or next month. They could take medicine A or medicine B. They could pay online or in-person. They could return an item or get it repaired. They could return this semester or drop out of college.

Often – as service-focused individuals – we want to offer options and provide the facts for their decision, and then we stop.

But in our gut, if we truly care about that customer with us, we often know there’s a better option. We know that customers similar to them preferred a particular alternative. We know that – based on their unique personality, their specific issues, or their personal goals – one way is better than the other.

It’s their decision, but if we really want to provide great customer service, we need to use our skills to persuade them toward what decision may be best for them.

“While there are different times when you could renew, based on your preference for that location, I recommend you renew today to lock in those seats.”

“When we’ve had patients in your situation, they preferred medicine A because there are minimal side effects.”

“When people haven’t dined with us before, we often recommend this dish – it’s our specialty and really gives you a sense of what makes this experience special.”

When you’re serving, don’t be adverse to selling – particularly if selling is simply persuading the customer to make the best decision for them.

When offering options, don’t just state the facts – sell them.

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Practice Active Root Core Thinking…Huh? – 11/18/14 TOW

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


We need to be “Active Listeners.” We need to be “Critical Thinkers.” We need to find the “Root Cause” and determine the “Core Need.”

You hear similar statements all the time, and, yes, these are all important things, but what do they really mean? Here are some examples:

You’re a fan relations representative for a pro sports club, and the season ticket holder asks if they can relocate from their seats to a certain section with no availability. Instead of simply saying “No,” ask “Is there something in particular you like about that section?” You might uncover a reason for their move that could be addressed elsewhere.

You work for a local municipality, and the developer says they need a permit. Instead of assuming what permit they need, you could say “I’d be happy to help you with that! Tell me a little about the project so I can best help you get started.”

You work for a hospital, and the patient says they “need a smoke.” Of course, it’s a smoke-free campus, so you say “Unfortunately, we can’t do that since it’s a smoke-free campus, but help me understand what you’re feeling that’s making you want to smoke, and maybe I can find a way to help you.”

If you are someone interested in being an “Active Listener” or a “Critical Thinker,” someone interested in “Root Causes” or “Core Needs,” that’s a good desire to have – especially in customer service. But don’t get too hung up on the fancy terms. Look at the three examples just provided to truly understand what’s being suggested by those terms:

  • Be inquisitive; ask questions – they show you’re engaged and care.
  • Understand their goal, so you can better understand potential solutions.
  • Don’t make assumptions – you might waste your time and that of the customer by going down the wrong path based on misinformation.
  • Be patient – don’t hear the symptom and think you know the root cause.
  • Restate your understanding of the person’s needs; ensure you know so specifically what they want that you can address it right the first time.

 
Practice Active Root Core Thinking…or just plain old good communication skills.

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