communication

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

Make it OK to Sell the Parrot – 8/21/18

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


This has been said so many different ways. I’ve noted how an attitude cannot be like a light switch, where you turn it on with your customer and you turn it off when you’re with the co-worker. Last week’s Tip discussed how communication is like water rippling in a pond, because of how it can affect the environment within which you work – words are not just part of the conversation. They often impact the person you’re speaking with or others in the organization. When noting body language, we often suggest picturing yourself in front of a mirror, because your body language provides a reflection of the attitude that the other person perceives.

All of these examples offer a couple key points. First is that – to deliver great service and be a positive influence on the culture, we should look at our attitudes and actions as something that needs to be consistent, an all-the-time thing. Second, we need to have some understanding of how we can influence or impact others.

Will Rogers once said, “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”

It’s important to be conscious of how we act and how we speak, because in life and in customer service, it’s not always about us. People who are great at customer service realize that so much of what we do is about and for others. So, consciously think about the impact of your attitudes and actions on others. Strive for more discipline in thinking through what is said and what is done…before it is said and done.

While it’s a difficult thing to do for me and I’m sure many of you, working hard to be a more consistent model to others is a key to long-term customer service success.

The parrot sees and hears EVERYTHING! Make it OK to sell the parrot.

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Water Rippling in the Pond – 8/14/18

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


You drop a rock into a creek, and you see the mini waves created. You watch a golf tournament, and a golfer dumps a shot in a lake – and it ripples. You see a water sculpture with a basin below, you toss in a penny to make a wish, and the water flows in every direction.

Ripples in the pond.

So much of the environment that we’re in – literally, and more so the mental environment that we’re in – is influenced by the words of others. If we hear constant negativity, if others voice constant obstacles, if there is rancor and anger and confusion, then there’s a great risk for those in the environment. We can allow those words to affect our mindset, our behavior, and maybe our own words as well.

Sometimes the environment that we’re in is full of encouragement, reinforcement, positivity, and appreciation. Sometimes those words build us up and are filled with thanks. The words in our environment can emphasize what COULD work and what possibilities for good exist. Those words also affect our mindset, our behavior, and maybe the words that we use as well.

Realize that the environment that we are in is often influenced by communication. The environment created by the words we use is like water rippling in the pond. Our words can influence others. They have the ability to change a perception or a mindset or a behavior or an outlook.

So, when we need to use words, choose words that move the environment in a direction of good.

Remember, your words create an effect like water rippling in the pond.

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Listen Up! – 5/29/18

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


When I was growing up, I would hear the phrase Listen Up frequently. It was usually being stated by adults who wanted to get the attention of a group of kids. It was usually stated loudly. It usually worked. At least for a minute or 2.

As an adult in the working world, I now find myself in customer service situations or advising clients on how to create a great customer experience. And while the phrase Listen Up has not lost its importance, it means something different today. Today, in business it relates to what employees should do with co-workers and customers. It suggests that in order for us to really solve a problem or address a need or resolve an issue, we have to be experts at listening.

So, what do experts at listening do most effectively?

They watch to observe and interpret the body language as much as they do the words. I was in a meeting recently where we were discussing certain individuals in the organization, and we were trying to uncover how they felt about a situation; it turns out that most of our conclusions were being driven by the body language they conveyed in meetings when the topics were discussed.

Experts at listening are experts at asking questions. They start with open-ended questions to let the other person share their issue, need, goal, their story or perspective. Then the listener drills down to specifics with close-ended questions to refine their understanding of the situation and the impact of potential solutions.

Listening experts let the other person talk. It seems obvious to say, but how can you listen if you’re doing all the talking? People who are great at listening let the other person talk 70-80% of the time – hearing the other’s perspective and guiding the conversation with those questions asked.

Great listeners are great at paraphrasing. They’ve listened so well that they can pause the conversation and – in their own words – explain the situation, the steps, the goals, and the desires conveyed by the other person. They can translate the body language, tone, the words and emotions of another.

Keep in mind that great listeners are often considered to be great conversationalists because the discussion flows, and the other person gets to share, feels comfortable doing so, and is speaking with someone who has an empathetic ear.

The art of listening is key to great conversations and great customer service.

Listen Up!

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