customer retention

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

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

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? – 3/23/21

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

The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work?

Sometimes it’s a great management initiative because it forces us to question the validity in doing things in the future a certain way just because we’ve done them that way in the past.  It can be a beneficial leadership tactic because it gets the organization thinking in a continuous improvement mindset.

But when it comes to customer service, what’s the question?  That depends on our goal.  If we’re an organization that is focused on delighting the customer or wowing the customer or amazing the customer or creating a Disney-like experience, you would ask:  Are employees focused on delighting the customer when they are greeted?  Does our speed of service make the customer go WOW?  Is the physical environment where the service is delivered creating an amazing feel for the experience?

Let’s say your goal is to keep every customer.  Then you would ask:  Are we personalizing every communication with our customer?  Are we proactively touching base with every customer to have an ongoing sense of their feelings about us?  Are we asking enough questions to truly understand why they would stay, why they would go?  Are we asking the right questions to truly understand their needs so we can specifically match up our resources with their needs?

What if your goal is simply to deliver a consistent, accurate, and timely service experience?  First of all, “simply” is probably not the best word to use.  Creating an experience that is consistent, accurate, and timely is anything but simple.  But let’s discuss what questions you would ask:  How are we ensuring that – no matter who delivers a service – it is done in the same manner?  How do we ensure and track accuracy?  How do we define “timely” or have a customer define timely, and how are we meeting the timeliness goal?

To be continuous improvement-oriented, to try to foster positive change, consider questioning everything.  But before you start questioning, first understand what your goal is as an organization, and let that drive what you ask.

Question everything, but first know what’s the question.

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

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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 maintain their existing customer base.  Even after almost one year of dealing with COVID-19, that concern continues – understandably so.

Customers are the life of any business, so sustainability and growth as an organization depends largely on retention and growth of the customer base.  Since the question I’m highlighting from the Business Journal study focused on existing customers, let’s talk about your current base of clients.

For you to maintain your existing customer base – before developing strategies or launching some major personalized reach-out campaign – let’s pause.  Let’s first determine what information we don’t know, and then let’s ask our existing customers to supply us with the information we need to keep them!

Retention:  Why did our customers begin working with our companies?  What about our products, our services, our people brings them the most value?  Why do they stay with us?  Why would they leave?

Growth:  Are they aware of our array of products and services – especially those that they don’t currently use?  Do they know about new customer processes or technology, policies or perks that could benefit them?  Are they aware of special values, resources, or unique opportunities available to them as existing customers?

Future Plans:  How likely are they to stay with us, to purchase more, to want to upgrade what they get from us?  How likely are they to look elsewhere for our types of services, and who else is competing for their interest or their dollar?

Every day, our customers are asking themselves whether they should stay or go.  Let’s make sure we’re asking them the questions so that we have the answers we need to keep them for the long-term.

Get customers to tell you why they would stay.

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

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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 as big a gift when they reach out to me for those same purposes.

There is no recipe for how to maintain business relationships over long periods of time.  If there was one, I’m sure Google or Microsoft would have branded it by now and made their bajillion’s.  There’s no recipe because every individual is different, every organization is different, every dynamic between two people is a little bit different.  And although there is no one recipe, there are a few guiding principles that I go by that I thought I’d share with you as you continue to maintain and develop your own relationships in the working world:

  • Think and act in a long-term manner. A relationship is a long-term thing.  It’s not a transaction.  Knowing that forces me to think and interact in a way that conveys I have the other person’s long-term best interest at heart.  That might mean giving them advice and guidance that results in CSS not getting a contract in the near-term, and that is absolutely fine.  It’s about what’s best for them long-term, not what’s best for CSS.
  • Be appreciative of others. Other people make decisions all the time about whether or not to work with us or whether or not to respond to my messages.  I appreciate the consideration and the responses.  The proverbial attitude of gratitude is a real thing; appreciate others because they are unique and special.
  • Treat EVERYBODY with respect. That means everybody I engage with or run into – I just try to make respect an all-the-time kind of thing.  I really work hard to treat others with undivided attention, like they are the most important person in the world to me.  And usually, in that moment, they are the most important person in the world to me.
  • Build Trust. I conducted a team-building workshop for an Executive Team, and I had them write 3 things that others do that helps them to trust the other person, and write 3 things that others do that makes the individual not trust others.  The variation in responses was amazing.  “Build Trust” may be the hardest principle of all because trust-building/breaking can be defined differently by different people.  To build trust, If somebody tells me something in confidence, I keep it to myself.  If I say I’m going to do something by a certain time, I do it.  If I can’t do it or not within the timeline, I let them know.

 

Now, as a disclaimer, I’m not perfect at these guiding principles.  I mess up, but I’ve found that if I’ve worked to establish a relationship, the other person will give me some grace.

Keep in mind that I’m not naturally the most extroverted or gregarious person in the world.  I’m not a relationship savant.  So, I have to work at relationships.  I have to think about it.  I have to have principles and apply them over and over again.

Use these principles and those that align to your values to make 2021 the year of building relationships.

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