complaint

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


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 Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

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


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 Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

In-the-Moment Stress Relief – 3/20/18

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


It is totally understandable why anyone would feel stress as a customer service representative. You may be dealing with complaints constantly. You have the internal pressure of making a quick call while adhering to a 2-inch binder’s worth of policies. You can hear the pain, the anger, and the urgency in the customer’s voice.

You are asked to juggle information, technology, empathy, procedures, and the uncontrollable – the other person.

I can’t provide every answer that will help you alleviate stress in the next 200 words. That would be unrealistic. But what I can do is offer you some quick tips on how to deal with stress in-the-moment:

  • Don’t think of a horror that might occur in the future. Stay in the moment. Focus on what IS instead of the negative what could be.
  • Breathe nice deep breaths. Let your breathing settle your heart beat.
  • Ask the other person questions more than feeling like you have to react with the perfect answers. The questions buy you time and provide you with information.
  • Remember how similar situations turned out well in the end. Remember that you have gotten through this before, and you’ll get through this, too.
  • Think about how to help the other person more than how the situation impacts you. Moving your thoughts away from how it affects you and toward helping others reduces stress.
  • Write down the facts you are learning during the conversation. Documenting is an activity that occupies the mind and the body.

When you’re feeling that in-the-moment stress, utilize these practices to calm yourself.

Use self-care to reduce stress.

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About Adults Behaving Badly and Common Sense – 3/13/18

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I was conducting focus groups at a client site that was known for poor customer service. They were trying to change their culture and turn around their customer experience, but they first wanted to get a sense of the current state of things. This particular focus group had many long-term employees, some of which earned the department’s bad reputation for customer service.

As I probed to get their philosophies and approaches to customer service, I was getting a lot of “blame the customer” talk. To direct a question back to the employee’s responsibility in dealing with difficult customer situations, I asked them specifically what they do when they’re dealing with the complaining customer.

The first response I got was “Be an adult.” I asked the person to clarify, and their response was “Just be an adult. People respect it when you’re an adult.”

While this may be true in general, organizations cannot make the assumption that everybody’s definition of “adult” behavior will result in a well-handled customer complaint. This reminds me of the many times I’ve heard the statement that “customer service is just common sense.”

The problem with those statements is that we’ve all seen adults behaving badly. If you’ve ever been on Twitter or Facebook or just walked down the street for that matter, you’ve seen adults who are not a being respectful, considerate, humble, helpful, or effective in how they communicate with others.

And as much as customer service might be common sense, you and I know that there are plenty of people without common sense. Is it common sense to argue with an irate customer? Is it common sense to stare at your smart phone when the customer is waiting for you? Is it common sense to talk to a co-worker about the party last weekend the whole time that you’re ringing up the customer at the register?

Again, being an adult and having common sense would be good general philosophies for customer service, but not everybody delivering customer service has the same definition of those terms.

If we want everybody on the same page delivering the same great experience, we need a common definition of what we expect. We need to have conversations about what constitutes a good customer experience. We need to understand that to consistently serve the customer requires we specifically and clearly paint the picture of great customer service.

Be clear on what is truly a great customer experience.

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Physician, Know Thyself – 3/6/18

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Delivering exceptional service is about more than responding to the issue, need, or goal. It’s about more than resolving the complaint. It’s also about taking a step back and identifying WHY customers could get upset or irate, why they could have issues or complaints, why it’s not a pure joy to do business with your organization in the first place.

There are definite trigger points, and often those triggers are caused by something the company has done or created or changed. The old adage says “Physician, Heal Thyself.” But before we can “heal” our organization, let’s identify what is ailing our organization that could cause that customer concern. Let’s start with “Physician, Know Thyself.”

Consider this question: What could you (or your department or business) do that could make a customer frustrated, confused, irate, upset, or angry? Consider that the customer may experience delays, conflicting information, lack of follow-up, poor directions or signage, experiences that don’t meet company promises, multiple employee handoffs, lack of clarity, being asked to fill out forms before they’ve had a chance to voice the concern.

Next question: What could be happening in the organization that could create frustration, confusion, delay, or misinformation? Think about a new process, new product, modified facility layout, change in policy, reduced staffing, new (uninformed) employees, or shift change.

Your answers to these two questions will result in a long list of potential customer pain points. Once identified, you can begin determining the frequency of these issues and start to determine what actions to take that could lead to a better customer experience.

Evaluate your own organization for causes of complaints in your customer experience.

Know Thyself to Heal Thyself.

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