complaint

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our 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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