customer service

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

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

Know What You Don’t Know – 11/5/19

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

Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions.

In the world of customer service, basing actions on assumptions is a risk we shouldn’t take, and it’s a risk we do not need to take either.  Taking action is work. Taking action also requires a customer’s time and almost always has some kind of an impact on the customer.  So before we take an action, let’s make sure we know what we need to know.

When responding to a customer need, briefly in your mind run through a mental checklist.  Run through the 5 W’s:  Do you know the Who, What, When, Where, and Why?  If not, these are questions you can ask the customer to give you the information you need before you take action:

  • Who – The name of the person with the need or those involved in the request.
    • Can I get your name, please?
    • Who needs this service?
    • Can I get the name of the person needing this item?
    • To whom am I speaking?
  • What – A description of what they want done.
    • Which service do you need?
    • What would you like done?
    • Which item are we discussing?
  • When – A common understanding of timeframe – when it’s needed.
    • By when do you need this done?
    • When do you need to receive this item?
    • What date are you considering?
  • Where – The location where something needs to take place.
    • Where does this need to be held?
    • Where are you located?
    • To where does this need to be delivered?
  • Why – An understanding of the other person’s goal.
    • What are you hoping to accomplish?
    • What’s your ultimate goal?
    • Can you help me understand the result you’re looking to achieve?

Before you take action for the customer, first know what you don’t know.  Then get to know what you need to know to address the need right the first time.

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Service, Sports, and Self-Control – 10/29/19

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When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every other shot, every other hole, was an emotional challenge. My attitude suffered, and my score suffered.

These days, I rarely play golf, but when I do there is so much less negative emotion involved after every mistake or every missed shot. Even though I miss-hit a lot more shots than I did when I was playing and practicing, one bad shot does not automatically lead to another. One bad hole does not automatically lead to another.

The difference is partly attitude, but it is also self-control. Self-control has a huge effect on an employee’s success in customer service as well.

It’s very difficult to talk to people via the web, via the phone, face-to-face, and via text, and to be consistently good if we allow one bad encounter to get to us. In customer service, it’s difficult to deal with the angry customers (and the occasional crazy customer!) if we allow that interaction or that one word or just that person’s “way” to influence what we do the rest of the day.

Self-control means making sure that we are listening to our bodies and monitoring our thoughts in these difficult circumstances. It means trying to stay loose and open mentally and physically despite the tension that surrounds us.

Having self-control is about controlling our emotions, being able to get through our initial reactions and – instead –respond in a way that is not knee-jerk. Having self-control means talking positively to ourselves when we’re getting ready to go into difficult meetings or hop on calls with customers who we know have issues. That level of self-control and managing our own emotions will help us to manage our part of the conversation that much better.

The idea is that bad stuff is going to happen in the business world just like I’m going to hit the shot out-of-bounds or I’m going to miss a 2-foot putt in golf. But if you have self-control, bad circumstances do not frustrate you as much. When you do something wrong, you’re not is likely to get angry with yourself, and when bad things happen at one point, you’re less likely to allow those situations to snowball throughout the remainder of your day.

Get in the habit of doing some self-monitoring of your thoughts and emotions so that you have the self-control you need to not let one bad apple or one bad encounter lead you into a bad day.

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What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time – 10/22/19

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Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it sincerely: I want to be respectful of your time.

Time is a valuable commodity. In this world that we live in, people are often so busy, they feel like they don’t have time, and maybe they truly don’t in that moment. One thing is for sure, whether people truly have time or not, they don’t want to feel like their time is being wasted. So, as someone who works in customer service, how do you respect someone’s time?

Look at it through the lens of the acronym BDA. BDA stands for Before, During, and After.

When you first engage a customer, thank them for the time they spent Before they got to you. Particularly if this is a follow-up question or request of theirs, or if they drove to your location, say Thanks for coming in! Show appreciation for what they went through prior to coming to you. Oftentimes you’re having a 2-minute conversation face-to-face with somebody who’s already accessed your website, called your co-worker, driven through rain and snow and gloom of night, and waited in line just to see you.

During refers to the conversation itself. Try to be as efficient as possible in meeting that customer’s needs; early on confirm how much time the customer has so that you know if they have 2 minutes or 20 minutes to sit with you. By understanding what’s going on in their mind from a time perspective – by knowing whether they are rushed or relaxed – you can best value their time in that interaction.

After refers to thinking about what’s going to happen next. If they have a next step that they need to take, or if there’s going to be some delay in your follow-up because of some internal process or communication or decision that needs to be made, let them know that you appreciate the forms they will be filling out. Let them know you appreciate their patience as they wait for an answer or resolution to their question.

To show that you value someone’s time, to be respectful of someone’s time, engage the customer with your understanding of what time they put into this interaction Before, During, and After.

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