customer experience

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

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

Set (Customer Service) Standards for Yourself – 2/21/17

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


A recent article noted that a European home builder lost millions of dollars in 2016 because their Customer Service Standards declined.

So that begs the question – What are Customer Service Standards?

In short, they are the bare minimum that a customer should expect when interacting with a company. The bare minimum in terms of quality, timeliness, employee knowledge, attitudes, and responsiveness.

We help many organizations develop and implement these standards because they understand it’s a risk to leave customer service up to the individual employee’s expectations of what they should deliver or the individual department’s or business line’s understanding of what is great customer service.

For great customer service to be delivered CONSISTENTLY and in a manner that aligns with organizational values and business goals, it has to be defined. The Standards create clarity for how that definition looks/feels on a daily basis.

But Standards aren’t just for the organization to define in order to set expectations, individual employees should also set high standards of what they expect of themselves.

So what do you expect of yourself? At every “Moment of Truth” with each customer you encounter or co-worker you serve, what experience should you provide? What level of care for others do you expect yourself to convey? What should “respect” look like when you deliver it to others? How do you expect yourself to act with others so that they feel valued and their need seems important?

Companies should set Customer Service Standards to be crystal clear of their expectations and to help create some consistency in the customer service provided throughout their organizations.

Make sure you’re setting standards for yourself, too.

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Avoid Hearing Only Complaints – 2/7/17

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I was meeting with a client’s leadership team recently, and we had some interesting conversations about how to measure customer satisfaction. While most in the room wanted to measure with – well…measures – one of the executives preferred to rely on subjective information – was she receiving complaints? Was she hearing from “Raving Fans” of her departments?

The problem that many in the room had to the subjective approach was this – her department was an internal service department. In other words, her department served employees, not the consumer. How many employees are going to go out of their way to rave about Human Resources? To pick up the phone and call the IT department to say “you guys are great!” To write a personal note to Finance singing their praises? The answer – not many. Few unsolicited praises come, but often unsolicited complaints can arise.

The group decided there needed to be a mix of the objective and subjective feedback. It was clear how to get to the objective feedback through surveys, but how do they get the subjective?

The answer is in the approach. When one relies on the “Unsolicited” feedback, you’ll tend to subject yourself to hearing mostly negatives, particularly if you’re an internal service department or an organization with some sort of regulatory function (like many local governments).

To get the subjective customer input, solicit. In the one-on-one contacts, ask “How was your experience in working with us today?” or “Did we address your need?” or “Did this visit meet your expectation?”

More strategically – as an organization – determine how to systematically get that subjective feedback. Hold routine customer focus groups. Have an advisory council of top customers. Have “coffee with our director” sessions. Hold the occasional customer Town Hall. Make rounds with customers for 1-on-1 meetings on a routine cycle.

Find ways to solicit the subjective feedback.

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Rapport in 90 Seconds – 1/17/17

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Sometimes we’re meeting the customer for the first time. It’s going to be a brief conversation, but we still want them to end the conversation feeling valued, comfortable, and confident – we want them to have a great experience.

Maybe there’s not enough time to establish a relationship, especially if you only have 90 seconds with the customer. So how can you at least establish a healthy rapport?

First, initiate and greet. Go to them, if possible, to initiate the conversation. Let them know you’re available and happy to help. Greet with some energy (not overbearing, but definitely not flat). Focus on them, and be friendly/courteous.

Second, make it all about them. Ask about their interest, their issue, need, or goal. Asking puts the focus on what’s important to them, making them feel important and valued. Restate your understanding to convey their situation is understood, and make it conversational – flowing dialogue is often key to rapport-building.

Third, share a little about you. It’s all about them, so what they need to know about you is that which makes them feel valued, comfortable, and confident. Valued – how what you do addresses their need. Comfortable – use your name to personalize. Confident – convey that you’ve helped others in similar situations.

Finally, let non-verbal factors communicate for you. Ensure that your body language and tone of voice back up what you’re trying to accomplish with your words. Engage with the body language, expressions, and tone in a manner that conveys you’re focused on them, empathetic, positive, and service-oriented.

Regardless of how much time you have with the customer, communicate in such a way as to engender positive feelings about you and your organization.

Establish rapport in 90 seconds.

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