customer service

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

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

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


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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