assume

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

My Relatives are Odd…or Maybe I’m the Odd One – 9/23/14 TOW

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


Sometimes I don’t understand people – even my relatives. I was sitting next to my teenage daughter last week, and she was playing on her smart phone. I asked what she was doing, and she said that she had created 22 “flash cards” using an app on her phone, and was quizzing herself for her Biology test.

While it was great that she was studying, I thought to myself, “That was odd. I would have just used actual index cards to make flash cards.”

Over the weekend, I was talking with my father-in-law about his lovely new flip phone, and he was telling me about a discussion he had with the service representative at his Verizon store. My father-in-law had gone into the store to pay his bill.

I thought to myself, “That was odd. I would have just paid my bill online.”

I could have concluded that my daughter’s and father-in-law’s actions were odd, or they could have concluded that my way of doing things was odd. But probably the real answer has nothing to do with oddities.

It has to do with differences – generational differences, yes – but also differences that go beyond ’57 Chevy v. Prius, that go beyond black and white television v. HDTV.

Not everybody is like us. In healthcare, just because the nurse likes to talk and socialize with others doesn’t mean that every patient wants the non-stop conversation. In sports, just because the NASCAR fan loves to camp doesn’t mean that every sports fan will drive 600 miles for an event. In government, just because some residents love having a 311 number to dial for service doesn’t mean that everyone prefers to handle their business on the phone.

When you’re considering how to handle this call, this e-mail, or this guest that’s standing in front of you, don’t assume they are just like you.

Ask enough questions to move from assumption to understanding.

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I Assume She is Not Like Me – 3/4/14 TOW

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


She left me a voice mail, and I prefer to respond via e-mail. She talks really fast, and I prefer a more casual speed. What she wants most is to be heard, and what I want most is to have my problem fixed. She wants to be walked through a process by an employee, and I want the self-service option.

She is the customer. I am the employee. We could not be more different.

But what if I prefer voice mail, I talk fast, I want to be heard, and I want that 1-on-1 employee support? Then we’re the same, correct?

The point is not in the determination of whether we’re the same or different. The point is that we can’t make assumptions that we and the customers are the same.

How I prefer to be communicated with, how I prefer a situation be handled, how I prefer to get a need met may be the same as 70% of my customers, but what about the other 30%? If I believe that they are like me, I could deliver some pretty lousy service to those 30%.

This is when we talk about the importance on not assuming the customer is just like us. This is when trying to convey empathy is so important. Because customers want their need or issue addressed, but many also want it addressed in a certain manner, and if we don’t take the initiative to identify not only what they want but how they want it received or handled, we could have a dissatisfied customer.

Don’t just describe what you’ll do for the customer, but confirm that will work. Don’t just assume how you’ll communicate with them, but ask their preference. Don’t just overlook the particulars of their situation, ask them for the details.

To deliver great customer service, we have to avoid the assumption they are like us and – instead – confirm the reality. Assume they’re different; that focus will force you to ask them about themselves, their needs, their issues, and their preferences. It will put you in a learning mindset, and it will make you better at serving them in the best manner possible.

Assume the customer is different from you.


Analyze This… – 7/2/13 TOW

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

No we’re not talking about the Robert De Niro movie. I’m going to give you a real world situation, and I want you to analyze the customer service of this employee – Frank the building inspector.

Frank looked at his list of inspections for the day and cringed at the first one on the list. “What a way to start the day,” he murmured. “Waynesville Brothers Contracting. I can’t stand those guys. They’re always trying to get away with stuff. Drives me crazy.”

As Frank started out to the job site, he grew more irate about the conversation he anticipated having. When he got there to do the inspection, the site manager was a new guy named Pete. Frank immediately went up to Pete and introduced himself by name. Pete responded “it’s good to meet you.” Frank responded gruffly, “I won’t be here long hopefully. I’ll let you know what I find out.”

Soon Frank started the inspection, and as was usually the case with Waynesville Brothers Contracting, he found lots of issues. But for a first inspection, it wasn’t quite as bad as normal. When he went back to Pete, he interrupted Pete’s discussion with a subcontractor and said, “I’m ready when you are to go over this stuff.”

Pete asked “How did we do?,” and Frank responded “let me go through the list – there’s several items to address.”

As they walked through the items, Pete asked several questions. Whereas he was an experienced manager, he had moved to the East Coast within the past year from the Midwest, and he wasn’t as familiar with the State code. When Frank realized this, he slowed down on his review of the items, and he clearly stated why some of the items were in violation of code.

At the end, Frank said, “do you have any more questions, Pete?” Pete said “Nope, I’ve got it.” Frank said, “then let me give you a number to call and a website when you’re ready to schedule the re-inspection.” After providing the information, Frank said, “good to meet you. Have a good one,” and he left.

Now for the analysis. . .

What did Frank do right? What did Frank do wrong? Analyze Frank’s mindset, his terminology, his probable tone of voice, his assumptions, his use of personal names, and his general way of interacting.

While I’m sure you did a great job in analyzing Frank, it’s not always as easy to analyze ourselves. . .but we need to do so. To get better, we have to know the starting point – how we’re doing today.

So analyze yourself after you have a customer interaction. Try to do this at least once per day – particularly with conversations that you can tell – in your gut – did not go well. Ask “What did I do well?” and “What could I have done better?”

To improve, know your starting point. Analyze yourself.

 


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