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Caring Goes Beyond Competence - 11/30/21


April went to get some routine car maintenance done at the local service center.  When they finished the oil change, she paid for the service, got her keys, went to her car, and opened the door.  As she was about to enter the car, she stopped.  Somebody had obviously Read more

You Mostly Get What You Give - 11/23/21


It is Thanksgiving week in the United States, so let’s talk “Thanks.” There’s a saying that You Get What You Give.  And while the goal of giving thanks should not be “To receive things,” getting something positive in return is often a nice byproduct of being appreciative of others. It’s amazing Read more

Van Gogh the Vision - 11/16/21


Want to create Service Excellence in your organization?  Have a vision, then paint the picture of that vision.  It’s easier to create something if you can visualize it first, so let’s Van Gogh a Vision. Excellent customer service is delivered in a courteous manner.  Courtesy comes through when employees are Read more

First E-mail Impression? I’ll Enjoy Working with You - 11/9/21


When you provide consulting, research, and training services like we do, you meet a variety of people, and many of them are new individuals to work with even if they are in organizations you’ve worked with for years. When I meet the new customer or they meet me for the Read more

A Way to Serve with Empathy - 11/2/21


We first wrote a Tip of the Week on empathy back in 2008. It was the most important customer service skill then, and it’s the most important customer service skill now.  And as we’ve noted in society, empathy is becoming a word that is used more often in more Read more

Channel Your Inner Aristotle - 10/26/21


Aristotle once said: We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. This is a very interesting statement.  We need to break it down to fully understand and appreciate it. We are what we repeatedly do. Let’s focus on the word repeatedly.  None of us is Read more

To Improve, Understand Why You Do What You Do - 10/19/21


In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says that habits form at the intersection of desire, skills, and knowledge.  Desire is the WANT TO do something.  Skills is the HOW TO do something.  Knowledge is a combination of the WHAT TO do and WHY TO do Read more

Tailor to the Type - 10/12/21


We’re all different.  We’re all unique.  Every customer is different and unique, as well, and we should treat them as unique individuals. While we should see each customer as unique, before we fully get to know the customer, there are some core philosophies to take into customer conversations based on Read more

Avoid the Silence; Build the Relationship - 10/5/21


Our interactions with customers are “Moments of Truth.”  These Moments of Truth can be conversations with a customer about some complaint, encounters when they're in the drive-thru, questions about an order that the customer calls in to the company, or brief interactions in the lobby of a government building. Sometimes Read more

Make it a “Good Busy” - 9/28/21


When I’m speaking with colleagues or clients, I’ll often ask how their day is going. The response I get almost once a week is something like:  I’m incredibly busy! When I get that response, sometimes I’ll ask whether it is a “good busy” or whether they are “fighting fires.” I’ll ask Read more

It Matters How They Heard About You – 8/10/21

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

In the 1,000+ surveys that CSS has conducted over the past 20 years, it’s interesting to read how our clients’ customers heard about them.  This question is typically asked of first-time customers, and it’s especially helpful for those customers because you don’t typically have a lot of information on them, so it’s hard to categorize them, align them with your customer personas, or get a feel for what they expect.

So, it’s great when those first-time customers will answer that question, because how they heard about you matters.  It gives you a strong sense of what they expect.

It tells you what method of communication (website, an advertisement, word-of-mouth, etc.) made an impression in the customer’s mind – a positive enough impression for them to contact your business.

It also helps you to understand what expectation the customer has of the experience they’re about to have with your business.  If it’s a website referral, your site has certain expectations it’s setting about the products you have or what the customer is about to experience.  If it’s a word-of-mouth referral, they have expectations based on a friend who actually experienced your business.  If it’s an ad, it’s an expectation based on the product or event or characteristic that you promoted and what expectation your ad set.

To take this analysis a step further, ask the customer “What about the – ad, friend’s referral, website – brought you in today?”  This will encourage them to tell you more specifically what they expect.  And the more precisely you know the customer’s expectations, the more precisely you can meet and exceed them.

Ask the customer where they heard of your business; ask what brought them to your business.  Then exceed that expectation.

Uncover your first-time customers’ expectations.

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

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

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 strategies” that developed were really a repackaging of customer relationship development and client retention and growth initiatives.

Fast forward to today, and largely due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the economy is taking a hit again.  Companies are trying to determine how to change their customer experience, but they – again – are having to retain the customers they have as they hope to navigate through these waters and be positioned for continued success down the road.

One consistent response to these economic downturns is that companies have refocused on the importance of listening to the customer.

When you listen to the Voice of the Customer, oftentimes that voice is being shared in response to your questions.  These might be questions when you’re dealing with a customer issue, but let’s think a little bit more strategically – consider the customer voice you hear through your research.  You may have questions that you typically ask in a customer survey or in a focus group, but try to avoid the typical.  Instead, let your goal determine your question.

For example, if an organizational goal is to retain customers, ask why they became a customer in the first place, what keeps them with your business, why they would consider leaving.

If your goal is growth with existing customers, ask them about their needs.  If those needs are not being met by your company, ask them how those needs are being addressed.  Inquire about their awareness of your other products and services.

If you want to differentiate your business by having an exceptional customer experience, ask customers how your experience compares to others.  Ask how they would define a “great customer experience.”  Ask them to give you an example of an organization or a situation that provided an exceptional experience.

In times like these, most organizations are holding on to customers as tight as they can, and most discerning customers realize that fact.

When you’re considering tapping into the Voice of the Customer to learn how to strengthen that relationship, discuss organizational goals before you ever discuss what research questions to ask customers.

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Orillia’s Orientation Toward Customer Service

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 7-3-15 - 3rd postI know, I know – Government customer service is an oxymoron – I’ve heard the joke often, but I’ve worked with too many local government organizations to believe it’s true. The reasons it’s difficult to deliver great customer service typically fall into 3 buckets:

  • The easiest way to change a culture is to change the people, and it’s often very difficult to change staff in local government
  • A key to creating a particular desired culture is to have rewards and recognition (i.e., incentives) for staff who exhibit the needed behaviors and attitudes; many governments have policies and budgets that greatly limit such rewards
  • Many local government agencies are enforcing code, ordinances, laws, and regulations. It’s hard for the customer to feel great in situations when you’re telling them “no.”

I’m sharing these obstacles to great local government customer service because they’re a reality…but they’re also an excuse.

The Orillia City Government has been working on its continuous improvement strategy, focusing largely on customer service. According to the article City expanding customer-service focus, the City approved a customer service strategy in May that included the following components:

  • Continuous monitoring of customer satisfaction and feedback;
  • Exploring ways to expand access to services online;
  • Exploring opportunities to offer expanded payment options;
  • Establishing a dedicated customer-service team, comprised of staff from each city department, to monitor and receive feedback on the city’s customer-service practices;
  • Reviewing options to provide general reception on the first floor of the Orillia City Centre;
  • The implementation of corporate-wide customer-service standards to ensure consistent levels of service in all departments and locations;
  • Expansion of the city’s website to offer more information regarding the appropriate staff contact for all areas of the corporation; and
  • Regular customer-service training for staff.

Review your organization’s customer service strategy. Does it include research, broader service delivery vehicles, dedicated customer service resources, facility navigation, standards development, and training?

Review your strategy if you want to move it forward in a more comprehensive way. Learn from Orillia’s strategic orientation toward customer service.

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