culture

I Think I Think is Wrong - 10/20/20


I think that’s not going to be feasible.  I think we can do that.  I think you’re on the right track.  Methinks thou dost protest too much. Please forgive the Shakespearean reference, but it seems to fit well here.  When we are talking to co-workers and customers, and we’re giving Read more

Be Slowest, and Be the Best – Chick-fil-A - 10/13/20


About one week ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article that analyzed the results of a SeeLevel HX research engagement on the customer experience at fast food restaurants.  The results were seemingly contradictory.  The fast food chain with by far the overall best drive-thru experience was Chick-fil-A, and yet Read more

Connect During Customer Service Week - 10/6/20


It’s Customer Service Week…woohoo!  This week should be all about the customers we serve and the staff who serve them.  This should be about conveying we value other people, and – hopefully – having other people convey that they value us.  It’s a week about people – about us. This Read more

Temper the Tone of THE VOICE - 9/29/20


The television show The Voice is a singing competition.  The opening episodes of every season begin with individuals singing while judges have their backs to the singer.  The judges can’t see the singer, so they are evaluating the performer purely based on their voice. Oftentimes, when the judge turns around, Read more

Keep On Going - 9/22/20


Thomas Edison once said “Many of life’s failures are experiences by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” You are close to success – Keep On Going. Winston Churchill once said "If you’re going through hell, keep going."  This quote has been taken Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events


Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential Read more

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Are You a Debbie Downer or a Debbie Developer? – 11/14/17

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


We’ve all heard of Debbie Downer (actually, if you haven’t, that’s probably a good thing). Debbie Downer was a character in “Saturday Night Live” – a person whose general attitude and actions brought down the environment, made everyone depressed – left others just sitting there…bummed.

However, I want to share something about a person of the same first name that I’ll refer to as “Debbie Developer.”

Debbie Developer is a client of mine (name’s been changed – I’m sure you’re shocked). She’s a training/development specialist, but much of her work over the past year has been with a new Service Excellence program. She’s well-respected by the CEO and has launched and successfully completed several large-scale initiatives over the past 2-3 years, in particular – initiatives that often go beyond the assumed responsibilities of someone in her role. And she does all this with a great customer service-oriented attitude.

Although her job is to develop skills in people, she also develops programs, she develops relationships, and she develops passion and energy around important projects. Here are three examples of how she develops with a customer service approach:

  • When she walks into a meeting, she’s curious, asks lots of questions, comes up with ideas. When someone comes up with a great idea, she literally says “That’s a great idea!” When someone asks an interesting question, she says “That’s an interesting question.” She engages, acknowledges, and reinforces others. She doesn’t just think positive thoughts – she conveys them to others.
  • When she’s given a task or project, she asks others how they would approach it, and she sends updates to keep them in the loop and let them know their input is requested and needed.
  • She’s quick to respond to e-mails and voice mails; in e-mails, she always starting with a greeting and ending with some positive statement or enthusiastic “Thanks!” She often calls instead of e-mails if there’s any need for dialogue or detail to best answer the co-worker’s e-mailed question.

 

This is simply a quick example of a person who exemplifies customer service excellence. She does it by doing the right things with the right attitude. She does it by treating others the right way.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Be a Debbie Developer.

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Build a Great Customer Experience – 11/7/17

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Over the last 5-10 years, much of the management thinking about how to create a great customer experience has changed. In the distant past, to design a great experience, organizations would create the environment, the policies, and procedures that would deliver what the customer wanted the way the customer wanted. This is a great approach.

More recently, much of the thinking about customer service has focused on the fact that culture is the main driver of a great client experience. While it’s wonderful to have a great environment, policies, and procedures, people are who deliver the service in that environment, who work within those policies, and who execute those procedures. Oh! And people (employees) are the ones who interact with customers. This culture focus, too, is a great approach.

But what drives culture? We often talk about those aspects of an organization that impact culture such as Mission, Leadership, Training, Incentives, Communications, etc. But what drives culture?

In the end, the people are the culture. You want people who care about the customer and can convey that to the customer. You want people who can care about the organizational mission and the employees they work with in living that mission daily. And you want people who can balance the care of the customer, the co-worker, and the company. So, in short, you want people who care.

Not to sound dramatic, but to build a great culture, to get people who care, you have to build the collective heart of the organization. Leaders need to care as much or more about their employees and customers as the employees care about those they serve. There has to be continual leadership focus on relationship-building with staff, showing you care about them as unique, talented individuals. There has to be a desire on the part of leadership to be vulnerable enough to ask staff for opinions and open enough to listen to them and share with them as well.

Employees will care more if they feel leadership cares, if leadership asks, listens, shares, and supports staff.

Building heart is not all on leaders, however. Staff need to do these same things with others – co-workers, customers, and even their bosses. The more we all listen, learn, support, and help others, the bigger the collective heart will grow.

Build heart to build culture and to build a great customer experience.

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Get Better to Get a Raise – 10/10/17

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I was giving a speech recently about organizational culture, and the focus of the talk was the approach to culture by best-in-class organizations.

One organization I highlighted bases employee raises – in part – on how much staff have improved their own skills and capabilities. In one sense, that’s an odd thing to consider. Isn’t it the organization’s responsibility to develop staff? Shouldn’t staff just do their job? Isn’t performance more important than skills and capabilities?

Those are all logical questions, but let’s instead focus on the following questions. What if your organization rewarded you for developing your skills and capabilities? What if your organization realized that the way to improve organizational performance is to improve individual and team performance? What if the organization believed employee development to be a shared responsibility between the company and the individual?

If that was the case, it leads to questions you can ask yourself. How are you improving skills and capabilities?

What are you reading? Who are you asking for feedback about your own skills, capabilities, and performance?

What are you doing to learn more about technology? About communications? About engaging your customers?

And about what are you being inquisitive that could improve your skills?

Ask and answer these questions for yourself.

Tomorrow, your customers will be different, your technology will be different, your leadership will be different. Maybe even your company will be different. Find ways to get better today to prepare for your tomorrow.

Make your own case for getting a raise. Build your skills and capabilities.

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