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 Complaints Constructive – 7/18/17

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


Sandy aspires to be an excellent manager. She’s new to a leadership role and new to the organization. She’s come into her department with a ton of passion and energy. And now she’s in the middle of her “listening tour” – talking to different groups of employees, understanding the department’s history, its culture, and its approach to customer service.

In the middle of her third meeting, all her passion and energy started to get sapped – minute by minute, complaint by complaint. She was listening to staff, but it had turned into a gripe session. Literally nothing she was hearing was positive. Issue after issue was voiced. Sandy thought about asking – “What is something/ANYTHING positive going on in the department?”, but she didn’t want to have her staff feel like they couldn’t voice complaints to her or that she only wanted to hear positives.

So she asked a different question: What are some solutions to the issues we’re discussing?

Crickets. Nobody said a word, for 5 seconds, then 15, then 30.

Sandy gave into the silence and said: For example, what can be done differently, more consistently, or better relating to communications, planning, decision-making, relationship-building – just the general work environment?

And finally, people started offering ideas – not a ton of ideas, but it changed the dynamic of the conversation. The tone became less negative, and staff offered some great solutions to consider.

There are many lessons to learn from this, but let’s focus on two.

First, managers, listen to your staff. Communication is a 2-way street, and that bi-directional dialogue is great for understanding culture, morale, and even customer viewpoints from those closest to the customers – front-line staff.

Second, growth only comes through change and improvement, so complaints without solutions aren’t productive – they don’t lead to improvement and growth. Staff should support leaders with ideas to complement the complaints. Likewise, when dealing with complaining customers, sometimes asking the customer “What could we do to make this right?” or “What solution would help in this situation?” could make our lives as service providers easier – with customers offering solutions for us to consider instead of employees having to conjure up all the creative ideas themselves.

Do you have a complaint? Are you dealing with a complaining customer or employee? Consider tapping into the ideas of those complaining to identify potential solutions.

Make Complaints Constructive.

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How to Grow Your Relationships – 7/11/17

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In a study conducted about human relationships by Leo Buscaglia, researchers surveyed participants about the qualities of primary relationships which were most enhancing to continued growth. The three qualities that seemed to contribute most to growing relationships were Communication, Affection, and Compassion/Forgiveness.

Let’s see how to apply these relationship-growing attributes to our interactions with customers and co-workers.

Communication was defined as “the desire to be open, to share, to relate, and actively speak and listen to one another.”

Consider your co-workers and customers. To grow your relationships with them, be open, go to them sharing information of interest and use to them. Share your perspective and your thoughts. Likewise, ask for their thoughts, and listen to their responses.

Affection was seen as the “trait of caring, understanding, respect, physical and psychological closeness, nurturing, and kindness.”

Now here we’re not saying to be affectionate with your customers and co-workers, because that can get you in all sorts of legal troubles! So let’s focus on the definition of Affection. Show care for the other person, be respectful of them, be understanding of their needs, and show them kindness.

Compassion was defined as “the ability to have empathy, to forgive, to be supportive and selfless.”

I’ve often said that empathy is the greatest quality somebody can have in customer service. It’s hard to really serve someone if you don’t care enough to try to understand what’s unique about them and their situation. That’s empathy.

But forgiveness is something newer – a word I don’t discuss often. It suggests that sometimes the customers don’t treat us well, the co-worker doesn’t do what they need to do, others are throwing roadblocks in front of us. This definition of compassion suggests that we need to forgive them and move forward. We need to be supportive of others and lose any selfish tendencies that we might bring into situations.

If you want to grow relationships, focus on building these qualities of relationships into your everyday interactions with co-workers and customers.

Focus on Communication, Affection, and Compassion/Forgiveness.

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Tell Them the MOST Important Point – 8/16/16

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


I’m wordy. Brevity isn’t my gift. In high school, some of my sports teammates called me The Rambling Man.

I was once in a meeting at a hospital with a COO who asked my opinion on an important decision they were to make. I waxed eloquently about the pros and cons of each option, offering very sound, salient points. After a couple minutes of my wisdom, the COO responded “Therefore?”

“Oh!” I replied. “We should go with Option A.”

What the COO really wanted was my “Therefore,” but I was more focused on all the rationale that led up to my recommendation.

When you’re dealing with a customer, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of providing so much background or detail in a situation that we forget to emphasize (or even say) WHY all that information is important and what specifically should be done.

Here’s another example: When we conduct mystery shopping engagements for clients, sometimes the shop consultants will ask the employee a question about a need or issue, and the employee rambles through 37 potential services without ever recommending something specific based on the specific customer’s need.

All these points (am I rambling again?) come down to the main point. Before you respond to the customer, ask yourself “What is the most important thing I could tell them?” or “What do THEY care about most?” or “What do I suggest happen in this situation?”

Ask yourself the key question to ensure you give them clearly, specifically, and succinctly what they need.

Remove the Rambling. Tell them the MOST Important Point.

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