csr

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

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

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

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.