customer service

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster – 12/3/19

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

Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department:

  1. A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.
  2. A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class next week; do you know Meredith?”  The employee says “Oh, I know Meredith; let me get you in touch with Career Development where she works.”
  3. The employee asks the staff person from the other department “do you know what the status is on that work order?”  The other individual responds “I’m trying to get to it as fast as I can; I’ll put a rush job on it for you.”

One reaction to these scenarios is that the person responding is being very proactive.  They are jumping on the request and coming up with a quick solution or next step. Unfortunately, these are conversations where assumptions took place, and each assumption was wrong.

In the first case, the login difficulty had nothing to do with the password.  In the second case, Meredith had worked with IT before and was suggesting that the faculty member contact IT for support.  In the third example, they weren’t looking for a rush on the work order.  They were seeking an update just to make sure it would be done when needed.

Many customer service people are so responsive and so willing to help that they can run to the next step to try to get the ball rolling and to resolve an issue.  But if that’s done before clarifying and confirming what that real issue may be, they may be solving a problem that doesn’t exist.  They may be taking action down one path without realizing they’re going in the wrong direction.

These are examples we saw at a University client years ago, and these are examples that we see in mystery shopping that we conduct for clients today.

Be proactive. Be responsive. Take action on behalf of the customer.  However, first make sure that you clearly understand what they’re seeking before you take that action.

Don’t assume the answer and waste your time and the customer’s time as well.

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Become a Best Practice – 11/26/19

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

When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and how they help to direct.  We notice when expectations are set, and how expectations are met.

The reason we’re looking at all these different factors is that different customers evaluate their service experience in different ways.  Consider the Millennial view v. the Boomer view.  This could be a first-time customer evaluation v. a long-term client perspective.  This could be the perspective of somebody who’s never utilized anyone in your industry v. those who have experienced your particular line of business in other parts of the country.

And although there are varied customers with varied evaluation points about their experiences, oftentimes Best Practices have certain key characteristics.  Evaluate yourself, your team, or your organization against some of these key qualities of Best Practice Customer Experiences:

  • The experience is consistently good, regardless of time-of-day, day-of-week, who the employee is, or whether it’s a call, meeting, e-mail, web visit, or online chat.
  • Staff are proactive, and there is an air of positivity and pleasantness from the staff.
  • Staff are patient, and processes are quick; when they’re not quick, there are frequent updates provided to customers.
  • There’s more of a focus on what can be done than what cannot be done.
  • Customers don’t need to know the process or know the business or know the employees to have a really good experience.
  • Everything from the web to the facility to the paperwork is intuitive to customers.
  • There is personalization and appreciation for the customer.

 
If you want to be the best you can be, then look at these characteristics of Best Practice experiences.

Make them a part of your everyday and every interaction.

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Bring Out the Best – 11/12/19

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

As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs to be done differently, better, or more or less frequently in order to achieve the best outcomes possible.

I’ll never forget the first project that I led well over 20 years ago. My boss congratulated me on the great work. And then he said: Ed, when you’re pointing out everything that needs to improve, make sure you’re balancing it with what’s done well. Even when people need to change, they want to feel good about the things they’re doing that need to continue.

Is not that the tone of the report was negative. It’s just that there was no balance. I was pointing out what needed to be improved to try to achieve the best outcomes, but they also need to know what they’re doing great – that which needs to continue to achieve the best outcomes.

So, when you’re working with a customer, along with sharing details about what they need to do differently, praise them for what they already did well: You’ve done great managing this effort on your own. Now, to make sure that you’re even more successful, here is how we suggest starting to change things for the future.

When you’re talking to a co-worker, if they’ve given you incomplete information, show what else you need, but thank them for what they already provided: There’s some great information on this form! I just need a few more items so that we can move forward.

And when you’re speaking to yourself, make sure all the self-talk isn’t critical on what you did wrong and what you need to improve. Give yourself the occasional pat on the back for what you did right: That was a great call! I really got along well with the client, we were both pleased with how it ended and what the next steps were, and I could tell they were very comfortable, very confident, and they felt really good, too!

When you’re trying to improve, make sure you are clearly stating what’s already working well and what needs to continue so that improvement can be done from a positive perspective.

Identify what needs to be done better or differently, but do it in a way that brings out the best.

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