culture

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

The Great Manager I Never Met – 4/15/14 TOW

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


I was fortunate to have been asked to speak at a finance association conference this past month on the topic of “Customer Service in the Tax Office.” I know that’s not the most exciting title, but it was a fun group!

I stayed at the hotel where the conference was held and had several interactions with the hotel staff while there:

  • I talked with two staff at the front desk during my stay; they each greeted me as I entered the lobby on two separate occasions, addressed my needs, proactively shared where the events were taking place in the hotel as I was checking in, engaged me in some pleasant chit-chat about the weather, etc. It was simple, pleasant, proactive, and done in personable way.
  • Since I arrived late in the day, I decided to order room service, and the room service person on the phone was upbeat, made recommendations to me in a confident manner in response to my questions, confirmed my order, and told me by when the meal would be delivered.
  • The room service delivery person delivered the meal a little early. He was professional in dress/demeanor, pleasant to chat with, patient with me, and closed positively.
  • As I entered the elevator from my floor to check-out, a housekeeper exited the elevator. She smiled, placed her hand on the side of the door to keep it open, and asked me to what floor I was going. She then pressed the button for me, smiled, thanked me, and moved on.

There was no individual “WOW” moment, but the high performing consistency made it a collective WOW experience!

Now, I never met the hotel manager; I’m not sure I ever even spoke with a supervisor-level individual. But I can tell they have a great manager. In the Moments of Truth with these five employees, every interaction was positive, was pleasant, was professional. Every interaction had a little that went beyond the basic expectations.

You don’t get that purely by being lucky. You develop efficient processes. You hire the right people, train them well, don’t overly script them, and motivate them to keep them happy and pleasant.

Sometimes you can identify great managers without ever seeing them.


Develop an “Always Culture” – 2/18/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


Many of our healthcare clients are adopting the concept of creating an “Always Culture.” This movement is often in response to a change in Federal Government reimbursement to hospitals that is based in part on the results of patient satisfaction surveys. Those surveys are structured to have patients evaluate whether staff, nurses, and physicians “Always” do certain activities (as opposed to “Usually, Sometimes, or Never”). To maximize reimbursement, the healthcare organization wants a high percentage of their patients answering “Always.”

Now the concept of the “Always Culture” has been around for years, in and out of healthcare. The way we’ve described it is that you don’t want customer service to be a light switch (where you turn it on with clients and turn it off with co-workers); instead, it needs to be an all-the-time thing.

But regardless of what industries use the phrase, it’s still a meaningful concept.

The idea of “Always” implies that we’re CONSISTENT (hopefully Consistent Excellent) across departments, shifts, product lines, and people. That consistency requires that the organization hires those individuals with the propensity to be customer service-oriented, sets expectations of what is a great customer experience, trains ALL staff on the key principles and techniques, monitors performance in ALL areas, and rewards not only the “WOW” but also the Consistent Excellence. It requires that we hold those accountable that keep us from Consistent Excellence, and that we have leaders that understand that they must model the practices they expect of others.

Organizations striving for the Always Culture must continuously communicate the expectations, the goals, and the performance – celebrating success whenever possible.

But – in the end – “Always” comes down to the individual. Is it a habit to serve, a habit to care, a habit to be inquisitive, and a habit to be empathetic? Is it a habit to be responsive, a habit to proactively communicate, a habit to quickly resolve issues, and a habit to appreciate others?

Create your own “Always Culture.” Make excellence a habit.


A Tale of Two Minutes and Two Employees – 8/20/13 TOW

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

Needing a water filter for my fridge, I walked into a home improvement store. Now this is a chain that I’ve been in probably over 100 times, but this particular store was new to me – it was on my way home – so out of convenience, I stopped.

As I entered the store, there was an employee (think “Wal-Mart greeter”) about 15 feet ahead of me standing by herself. She didn’t look my way or smile – in other words, the greeter didn’t greet. I didn’t know where to get the filter, so I walked up to her and initiated the conversation. I told her what I needed, and as she was pausing/thinking, I noticed the Appliances section at end of store. “Is it down there?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s where they are.” She didn’t say anything else, so I thanked her and moved on. Now keep in mind that this is an ENORMOUS store, and the Appliances section had to be a good 4000-5000 square feet, so the search process took a while once I got there.

Now juxtapose that experience to my experience with the cashier. As I walked up, he was smiling with the couple that was ahead of me in line. He greeted me pleasantly, smiled the whole time we talked, took the gift card I was using for the purchase saying “That’s great that you get to use a gift card!” and closed by asking if there was anything else he could do and inviting me to come again.

Despite only being with the two employees a total of about two minutes, one can draw several conclusions:

  • This store doesn’t put much weight on customer service-orientation when hiring; if so, the greeter would not have been hired.
  • The level of customer service is based too much on which employee is helping you as opposed to an organization intentionally trying to create a culture of customer service.
  • Store management is not customer service-focused; if they were, they wouldn’t have put a “greeter” with that demeanor up front.
  • They have not conducted (and/or reinforced) effective customer service training (the greeter wasn’t specific on where I should go in the Appliances section, she didn’t offer to walk me there, she didn’t have positive body language, didn’t open, and didn’t close the conversation).

You can tell a lot about an organization in two minutes with two employees, so compare yourself to co-workers in terms of how you address customers.

Learn from your differences to improve your customer service.

 


« Previous   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9