care

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

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter – 12/29/20

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

Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth.

Although some of us may like the cold at times of year or around certain seasons, we don’t like the cold at the start of a conversation.  And oftentimes, customer service representatives can come off as being cold right at the beginning of a customer conversation without ever meaning to do so.

The customer makes their request, and this is how the employee responds:

  • What’s your account number?
  • What’s your name? What’s your phone number?
  • To confirm your account, I need your mother’s father’s wife’s daughter’s maiden name…spelled backwards.

 
While all this information might be valuable, there is typically little warmth associated with the words.  There’s virtually no communication of wanting to help that person or caring about that person’s needs that’s conveyed through the phrases used by the employee.

By simply responding to a request with a few key words or phrases, the conversation can start much warmer, much more pleasant, and take no more time than 1-2 seconds additional.  How about starting with:

  • I will be happy to help you with that request.
  • We can definitely address that for you.
  • I can help with that right away.
  • Great! That’s something I can take care of for you.

 
Simply sprinkle a “happy” or a “definitely,” a few “for you” expressions or “I can help” into your initial response to the request, and the tone and warmth of the conversation will start in the right direction.

Bring warmth to the beginning of your customer conversation.

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Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect.

No Communication = No Connection

If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we not only are not top-of-mind, but we’re not even “bottom-of-mind.” We are not in the mind. They don’t think of us, they don’t consider us because the relationship has gone stale.

Now caring is in the eye of the beholder. How one person defines whether they are cared for by the other may differ from individual to individual. But if we put things in the context of the customer relationship, there are some more consistent realities. Communicating with the customer just to sell isn’t relationship-building. A lack of communication isn’t relationship-building.

What Caring for the Customer Requires

Caring requires that people feel like they’re viewed as an individual – that we value them. It requires that we usually listen more than talk. It means that we try to understand their issues, needs, and goals, and – if they want more than the listening ear – we address those issues, needs, and goals.

So much of what I just described suggests that we can – and MUST – improve customer relations through research, and CSS is conducting a great deal of research in this COVID-19 environment because our clients understand this truth.

Customer research done correctly involves a company asking a customer a question. It involves the company seeking information from the customer, ultimately for the customer. Sometimes, well-designed research instruments convey caring for the customer and valuing of the customer just by how the tools are worded and what questions are asked.

Design with the Customer in Mind

What do you need to know about the customer to help them? What do you need to learn about them to best serve them? How do you identify their priorities, their issues, their concerns, their perceptions, their preferences? And how do you construct these questions in such a way that you convey that you care? We’re talking about research, and we’re not necessarily saying it’s purely web-based surveys. This can include one-on-one interviews, phone follow-up from account representatives, or check-in calls from staff. This could include informal e-mail requests, or it could include facilitated ZOOM focus groups.

Whatever it is, do enough of it to know enough about as many of your customers as possible to help them. If you professionally design with the conveying that you care in mind, you will improve customer relations.


6 Ways to Provide Something Extra – 4/14/20

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

Winnie and Wayne ordered take-out last week, and when they brought their food home, they put the bag on the kitchen table and started unloading.  As they were pulling out the boxes, they noted two little handwritten notes. Each was a Thank You Note written by a different employee – one for each customer.

True story. Simple gesture. Special to the recipient, especially considering how exceptionally tough times are in the restaurant industry.

Sometimes when we are hurting, the best thing to do is to give a little extra to somebody else.  Sometimes when having customers knocking on your door every day is no longer a given, we need to do a little something extra.

Here are some “something extras” that we can consider doing for customers in the days where we’re currently living:

  1. Send that handwritten Thank You Note to a customer.
  2. Call or e-mail someone in an informal and personalized way just to check on them.
  3. If you find something that is helping you mentally, physically, spiritually, share that with others that you think may be open to that type of example.
  4. If you are waiting on something for the customer to do to complete a transaction or to get a process moving, either do it for them and let them know, or give them a quick call or text as a reminder to help them keep things moving.
  5. In e-mails and calls, don’t just share the facts, ask how they’re doing and convey that you hope they stay safe.
  6. In a “Stay-at-Home” world, find ways to virtually provide/receive information so they don’t have to make a trip.

I’m heartened by how much people are rallying around each other and, in many ways, being more collaborative and less conflict-oriented.  Many of these behaviors are simply reflective of a more caring culture.

Find some ways to give something extra.

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