customer care

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

Why are they Calling You? – 7/29/14 TOW

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The customers were complaining about being transferred multiple times, about voice messages not being returned, about e-mails they sent that received no response.

Then the company responded with solutions.

The staff needed to be more responsive. The staff needed training. The company needed a new policy. A monitoring system for staff responsiveness needed to be put into place.

The scenario I just described happens thousands of times per day across the customer service landscape, and it happened recently to me as well with one of our clients.

However, there’s an inherent problem with this scenario. Too often, the focus is ONLY on how to respond better, more quickly, and more consistently.

The bigger question, the root cause question is this – Why is the customer calling in the first place?

Is it a complaint about a defective product? If so, then why is the company selling defective products?

Is the question about poor customer service? Then why is the service so poor?

Is the call requesting a status update? Then isn’t there another way for the customer to get a status without calling?

Is the contact made by the customer so they fully understand the next steps? If so, then why weren’t those next steps conveyed clearly, simply, and in a documented manner already?

I would never advise any company NOT to try to improve. But before you try to address issues of responsiveness, find out the reasons you’re having to respond in the first place. Then find ways to reduce the need for the customer to call you directly.

Know why they are calling you.

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An Interesting Tip about Amazing Service – 5/13/14 TOW

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I listen to a sports talk show periodically, and the host has an interesting habit. He is always making statements such as “It’s really interesting that…” or “What’s amazing is that…” He will then follow-up that statement with an observation or conclusion that he wants you to find interesting, too – so you’ll keep listening.

Sometimes the conclusions aren’t the most interesting such as ‘What’s really amazing is that. . .when I watch the paint dry. . .it actually. . .dries!” Wow?

But there are three extremely useful tips that we can learn from this radio personality. First, the words you use matter – often tremendously. Our goal in customer service includes imparting a feeling to the customer or co-worker that we care for them, that they are valued, and that they are important. And our words impact their perception of whether we care.

Think about a situation where you’re a banker listening to a customer describe their need: “I am looking for a way to open my own jewelry making business using repurposed items like old necklaces, broken bracelets, etc. But I need some capital to acquire tools and develop a website.”

You could respond “We offer loans,” or you could respond “Wow! That’s a really interesting concept; what a great idea to use old jewelry to make attractive, new items to sell! And we definitely have funded many creative companies like yours.”

In both cases you might provide the loan, but which response will more quickly establish a rapport and increase the likelihood of the customer wanting to go with your bank?

What about the patient in the physician’s practice that notices a spill that nobody cleaned up? You could respond “We’ll take care of that,” or you could respond “Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention. That helps a lot – we don’t want anyone stepping in it or slipping. I REALLY appreciate it.”

Which response better conveys how much you value them and what they’ve done?

Second, avoid a tone that wreaks of sarcasm or indifference – offer a sense of sincerity with your tone. And third, avoid the hyperbolic statement such as: “Thank goodness you told me about the spill! Someone could have died! You just saved a life!”

Remember that the sincere interjection of some key words (interesting, amazing, appreciate, thank, sharing, etc.) helps the other person to feel valued, important, and appreciated.

Convey interest with a few amazing words.


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

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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.