csr

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

A Representative Success! – 12/11/18

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


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing.

She knows her customers so well that when she sees their phone number pop up as they call her, she immediately knows who it is that’s calling. She immediately recalls: Jane is a cat person; Bob’s been having a hard time lately. She then starts the conversations by asking about their kids or their family or their work or their pets.

She thinks of these nuggets and utilizes them for those she cares about – her customers.

There are thousands of individual products and hundreds of pieces of equipment and parts that her company sells and services. But she is exceptionally knowledgeable about the details such that she not only knows what the product is, but she also knows which clients might be interested in which products based on which promotions.

She is fortunate to be in a company where the culture is more about relationship-building and development than it is about quick handle times on the call. That positive cultural focus enables her to be patient with the customers in-the-moment as well as to think long-term about how she handles the call today and the impact that will have on her relationship and sales moving into the future.

She communicates frequently and freely with her regional sales managers, and they have a clear understanding of when and why one would communicate with a particular client versus the other.

The skills and attributes of this individual are the skills and attributes of somebody who truly cares about her customers and cares about her job as well. These are attributes that focus on long-term thinking, and the result is long-term success.

Learn from this representative’s best practices!

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Be Like Mike – 10/7/14 TOW

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


It was the 1980s, and cell phones were new. You had the soft, black carrying base the size of a phonebook, and you dreamed one day of getting a flip phone…

True Story – Dave was losing service on his cell phone, and he had an urgent need to get it fixed. He was getting ready to go on a business trip, and he needed the phone to talk to several of his customers, with many of the discussions needing to be taken care of “mobiley.”

So Dave called his cell phone provider, and the customer service representative (CSR) picked up the phone.

Dave: “Are you a basketball fan?”

CSR: “Uh, yes.”

Dave: “Well there’s 2 seconds left, you’re the coach. The ball needs to go to Michael Jordan to win the game. Now, I want you to stand up at your cube, look around the office, and get me in touch with your Michael Jordan.”

The CSR puts Dave on hold and transfers the call to the lady sitting right next to him – Theresa. She takes the call, identifies Dave’s needs and his situation, and promises to address the problem. She does everything perfectly!

Three hours later, Dave hears his phone ring for the first time in days; it’s working! Theresa had called to tell Dave that they had figured out the problem. It wasn’t an easy solution, but she got it done.

Several months later, Dave’s in his office, and he remembered the situation. He wrote a letter to the company praising Theresa and providing all the details he could remember.

About 9 months later, Dave gets another call from Theresa. She said she’s moving to Memphis – she got a promotion and was now VP over customer service for her company.

Dave: “Congratulations, Theresa! I’m so happy for you!”

Theresa: “If you’re ever here, please come into the office. And if you come into the lobby – there’s a glass case with awards, trophies, and plaques. Right in the middle of the display, there’s a framed letter – it’s the letter you wrote. Thank you, Dave!”

Theresa was the go-to person. She was Michael Jordan. She produced in the clutch, and she was rewarded.

As the old commercial says, “Be Like Mike.”

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Don’t be the Reactive Representative – 1/21/14 TOW

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


“But I answered his question…But I wasn’t rude…But I told her the policy…But I rang her up…But I called back.”

These are the responses of a customer service representative who is receiving some criticism or coaching from his boss. The employee’s words are filled with defensiveness, but they are also based on the assumption in the employee’s mind that they delivered solid customer service. If the employee answered the customer’s question, wasn’t rude, stated a policy, completed a transaction, or returned a customer’s call, then didn’t he provide great customer service? Shouldn’t he be immune from any criticism?

No.

The problem is that too many employees define great customer service or serving the customer in this way – “I responded to or reacted to the customer. I didn’t yell or scream. I addressed the facts and policies. I completed the task.”

In reality, these are the lowest expectations of someone in customer service. These are definitions of the bare minimum. These are characteristics of the Reactive Representative. When a customer engages the Reactive Representative, oftentimes the following occur:

  • The employee never moves toward the customer. Because if the customer needed something, the employee feels that the customer would go to the employee.
  • If the employee does move, he moves past the customer, rarely with eye contact. Because the employee is going somewhere, and the employee believes that if the customer needs them, the customer should ask.
  • The greeting never happens. Because the employee is waiting for the customer to say something.
  • There’s dead silence. Because the employee is waiting for the customer to ask the next question.
  • (Positive) Expressions don’t exist. Because the employee is thinking about a task, not about how they’re coming across to the customer.
  • The transaction ends in silence. Because the employee didn’t initiate the thanks.

These are examples of an employee expecting the customer to initiate and carry the conversation, the customer to create a positive tone, and the customer to clearly state their need or issue. These are also all examples of HORRIBLE customer service.

Don’t be the Reactive Representative. Be proactive. Be positive. Be the reason that the customer wants to return.