customer service

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

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

Are you the Output or the Input? – 6/25/19

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

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 them to us. We received the output. They complete a form, and they routed it to us. They have a complaint, and they send it to us. They make a sale, and they give the account to us. In this part of the process, we receive the output.

But we also provide the input. We take that difficult customer and sometimes escalate them to another person or area. We take that client, and we refer them to a premium services division for upselling. We work through our part of the process, and we hand off the information to the person managing the next step.

So, we receive the output, and we provide the input. As part of the process, we definitely benefit by making the process better. When we receive output that has questions or quality concerns or is not timely, particularly when this happens with some regularity, we can improve the process by professionally pointing out the problems; when we point out the problems, we should try to suggest solutions as well.

In terms of us playing the input role, we should seek the same information just recommended for you to provide to others. Contact co-workers who receive our input, and ask about our timeliness, quality, and completeness. Ask them what works well. Ask them for solutions to concerns.

If we want to deliver great customer service, we need to understand our role in the process.

Be of value to your teammates – whether you receive the output or provide the input.

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Look Up, or Look Out! – 2/19/19

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The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment.

Staring at the screen, the clerk confirmed the insurance was still valid and the address was still the same. After Frannie confirmed, the representative, still staring at the computer screen said “feel free to have a seat over there in the lobby.” So, Frannie went over to the lobby, and she sat down.

This is similar to interactions that happen millions of times every day at American businesses, and this is emblematic of interactions that happen millions of times every day which are NOT GOOD.

The only semblance of eye contact was when the clerk looked toward the line 20 feet away and yelled “next in line!” The clerk was dutifully doing her job, entering or confirming the right data. She got the facts right, she completed the transaction, and she told the customer where to go!

Frannie, meanwhile, was a proverbial cog in the assembly line. She was moved from place to place to place with all the warmth and attention and appreciation that one would expect from a conveyor belt.

After Frannie sat in the waiting area, she looked around and noticed that there were 4 different waiting areas with small signs to signify waiting areas A, B, C, and D. She assumed she was in the right area, but it was unclear to her. She was a tiny bit confused and a little bit irritated at the lack of anything positive. The longer she waited – 5, 10, 15 minutes past her appointment time – the more irritated she got. She also wondered if she was in the right waiting area. She saw patient after patient who checked in after her get called ahead of her.

She was getting hot, frustrated, and her question about the delay was turning into a complaint about the experience. Before her emotions got the better of her, her name was called.

The whole time, Frannie kept thinking that if the clerk had only looked up during the conversation, made eye contact a few times, smiled, and been more clear about the potential wait time and about the location of the waiting room, expectations that Frannie had would’ve been more reasonable; her perception of the experience would have been much more positive.

When you’re face-to-face with the customer, no matter how important that computer screen is or that paperwork may be, look up, or look out!

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Know the Customer’s Value Proposition – 2/12/19

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I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a financial advisor to arrange a meeting with a customer, the teller notes how his co-worker has helped many other customers with a similar need. When the pro sports sales representative hands off a new account to their service specialist, he notes how responsive the service rep is to his clients.

While these are all great examples on how to build up a co-worker in the mind of a customer, it’s even more important at times to have that same positive talk about the customer themselves.

Customers want to feel valued, like their purchase decisions and their dollars are important to the organization. Even more than that, they want to feel like they themselves are important to you and your company. You obviously can do that by providing great customer service. You can also do that by finding ways to tell them how much you value them. Everything I’m about to suggest obviously needs to be done with sincerity, so don’t say it if you don’t believe it:

  • Let the customer know when they’ve asked a great question.
  • Tell them when you agree with the option they selected.
  • Convey appreciation for bringing an issue to your attention so that other customers won’t have to face the same issue.
  • Thank them for coming all the way into your office to chat with you.
  • Thank them for their time and their patience.
  • Ask them for their ideas and their guidance, and then give them credit when you think one of those great ideas will work.
  • When they fill out the paperwork correctly, let them know they did a great job.
  • When they give you thorough answers, let them know you appreciate all the detailed information.
  • When they answer your series of questions to give you the information you need to address their need, thank them for all the responses.

 

Your customers are part of the service process. Their effective and complete participation is valuable to you. Let them know when and how they provide value to the process so that they feel valued by you.

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition.

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