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Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

Locke-in from the Start – 12/8/20

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

John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher, physician, and researcher.  He wrote many papers arguing particular points, oftentimes using reason and facts as the basis for his position.  He noted that many disagreements start because there is – in my words – a lack of real clarity about the topic of discussion.

He often liked to start discussions on some pertinent topic by defining key words.  In essence, his position was:  Let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing before we start talking about it.

For those of us working in the customer service world, communication is the source of many issues, and disagreements are especially frustrating when we are miscommunicating about the topic itself.  Here are some examples of topics that the customer wants to discuss, topics that need to be defined first:

  • The customer can’t register.
    • Did they mean register or apply? Are they registering a device or an account or for a class?  Is it for them personally or a product they just bought?
  • The customer wants to talk about their account.
    • Is it really about the account, or is it a login issue to the online account? Is it something regarding an account or an order?  Is it about an e-mail they received about their account?  Is it something odd on a recent account statement?
  • The customer has a question about their property listing.
    • Is it some misinformation online regarding their property, or are they looking at a property assessment hardcopy? Is it about their property card online or how it’s noted in the MLS?
  • The season ticket holder has a question about payment plans.
    • Is it a true “payment plan,” or are they just asking about different ways to pay? Are they concerned with options, progress, terms, how to pay off, or how to cancel?

To avoid unnecessary conflicts and address needs and issues more quickly, ensure your definition matches the customer’s definition.

Locke in a common definition of the topic from the start.

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

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

Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department:

  1. A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.
  2. A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class next week; do you know Meredith?”  The employee says “Oh, I know Meredith; let me get you in touch with Career Development where she works.”
  3. The employee asks the staff person from the other department “do you know what the status is on that work order?”  The other individual responds “I’m trying to get to it as fast as I can; I’ll put a rush job on it for you.”

One reaction to these scenarios is that the person responding is being very proactive.  They are jumping on the request and coming up with a quick solution or next step. Unfortunately, these are conversations where assumptions took place, and each assumption was wrong.

In the first case, the login difficulty had nothing to do with the password.  In the second case, Meredith had worked with IT before and was suggesting that the faculty member contact IT for support.  In the third example, they weren’t looking for a rush on the work order.  They were seeking an update just to make sure it would be done when needed.

Many customer service people are so responsive and so willing to help that they can run to the next step to try to get the ball rolling and to resolve an issue.  But if that’s done before clarifying and confirming what that real issue may be, they may be solving a problem that doesn’t exist.  They may be taking action down one path without realizing they’re going in the wrong direction.

These are examples we saw at a University client years ago, and these are examples that we see in mystery shopping that we conduct for clients today.

Be proactive. Be responsive. Take action on behalf of the customer.  However, first make sure that you clearly understand what they’re seeking before you take that action.

Don’t assume the answer and waste your time and the customer’s time as well.

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The Error of “Everyone” – 9/24/19

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

A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted how customers want to be good stewards of the environment, they want sustainable solutions, they want to protect pollinators like bees, and they want pesticides used with discretion.

While these statements on what customers want are not exactly the most controversial statements in the world, somebody reading this article could easily make the assumption that all customers want all of these things. When customers are making decisions about whether to buy a service from a particular company, their decision is based purely on this criteria. One could read the article and assume that these are the absolute priorities for EVERYONE.

This concept – that everyone wants A, B, or C, that nobody likes D, E, or F, that the priorities how I state them are everyone’s priorities – this is a concept that I can’t agree with as a customer service consultant.

When defining what all customers want in absolute terms, it’s a slippery slope. To deliver great customer service consistently, to retain and grow business with customers, we have to view each customer as unique. If we assume everyone wants A, B, or C, and nobody wants D, E, or F, we are making decisions based on incomplete information. We are not allowing the customer to complete our understanding of THEIR perspective, THEIR preference, THEIR priorities before we make OUR decisions.

And when we make those assumptions, we put our foot in our mouth, we go down the wrong path, we do for others what they wouldn’t do for themselves (sorry for all the clichés).

To deliver great service, view and treat each individual as unique. Avoid the Error of “Everyone.”

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