communication

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


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma – 4/30/19

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


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective.

I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in the role of the consumer. I’m talking to the customer service representative, and they’re saying they can take care of something, but they’re not telling me how long it will take. They are talking to me about some additional options, but they are not letting me know how much they’ll cost. Sometimes it’s not even during a conversation when I experience this as a consumer. I go to a website I utilize often, and it has unexpectedly changed dramatically. I call to talk to my customer service representative, and they’ve left the company.

There was no communication about how long the process would take or the cost of the additional options. There was no advance notice that the website was changing or that my account representative was leaving.

This lack of communication could be caused by the employee not wanting to bring up an issue that may make the customer upset or result in a longer call. The employee may try to avoid conflict, or they may be evaluated on how long they spend on the phone. Maybe they don’t notify the customer of the new website or the exiting account representative because they themselves weren’t aware, or maybe they were aware but don’t think ahead and view situations through the eyes of the customer.

The reasons are varied, and while some of those reasons are not controllable by the employee, some are controllable. The employee can choose to talk about process steps and timing, or not. They could address the pricing of the different options, or not. They could give the customer a “head’s up” on the new web design or the fact that the account representative will be leaving, or not.

When deciding whether to be proactive and tell the customer about the issue or the change about to happen, start with this core question – What’s in the best interest of the customer?

It’s hard to fail in your role as someone seeking to serve and retain the customer by doing what’s in their best interest. Communicating the unwelcome news may be the tougher decision, but it’s usually the right decision.

Communicate in a way that addresses the best interest of your customer.

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Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma – 4/23/19

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


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the company level. Next week, we’ll address the question at the individual employee level.

At the company or strategic level, the discussion usually centers around some change the organization is about to make. Maybe they’re going to test something in operations or in a system or with a service that might have some negative ramifications to the customer. Maybe they’re going to eliminate a perk or benefit that many customers utilize. Maybe they’re going to change a policy or procedure or stop providing a feature that customers enjoy.

So, should that company tell the customer? If the company doesn’t tell the customer, it oftentimes is because they don’t even think about the customer. They are so focused on their project or their product or their process or their promotion that they don’t think about everybody who might be impacted. Sometimes they’re trying to avoid complaints by not drawing attention or awareness to a change some customers might not like.

A way to answer this question at the company level is to keep in mind that problems are created when a customer expects “A” and they get “B”. Also keep in mind, that when a customer brings a problem to the attention of the organization, the customer’s in control of how that conversation goes. However, if the company takes control of that conversation by notifying the customer of what’s going to change, the company has control over what that message is, how it’s delivered, and within what environment that message is sent.

While there is no one pat answer to this question, most organizations in most situations need to tell the customer. They need to be upfront on what’s going to change so that they can maintain some control over how that communication goes with the customer.

Few organizations have failed because they are too proactive, too open, and too honest with their customers.

When deciding whether or not you should tell the customer, lean toward those options which build trust and transparency with your customer.

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Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service – 3/26/19

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


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within that store can instantly know as much about you based on a picture of your face that is run against a database, they can instantly tailor their sales or service encounter to you.

This “revolutionary” approach to better knowing the customers without them knowing that you know them (hope that wasn’t too confusing) includes utilizing your phone GPS trackers to tap into your social apps to learn about you immediately upon your arrival at the store.

Before this sounds too “Big Brother-ish,” the only thing truly revolutionary about this is the technology piece. Facial recognition is something that every customer service employee in every organization should know how to do for customers that are walking through their door. It’s important to be able to look at someone and gauge whether they are happy or angry, they’re confused and looking around or confident and moving toward a particular area, whether they are disinterested parties following their spouse around or people who are lighting up at the environment that they just walked into in the store.

These are skills that every employee needs to have because every customer is different. Employees need to be aware of the body language, aware of the expressions, aware of the movements of the individual and their gestures – because having some sense of what these mean gives you some insights into how to approach and address a customer.

Before we wait until that time where we walk into any store and immediately every sales representative pulls up a detailed personal bio that makes a ton of assumptions about who we are as a person based on what website we went to 3 days ago, let’s first make sure our employees truly understand how to read somebody that’s standing in front of them. Let’s ensure that we care enough to view the uniqueness of any customer in a way that no app can truly convey.

Technology facial recognition maybe the future of retail customer service, but customer recognition is the past, present, AND future.

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