customer service

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

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture – 2/5/19

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Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t mean simply providing detailed instructions line by line. What I do mean is literally seeing a picture.

Many times over the years, I’ve been trying to describe a strategy, process, or some key steps to a client that they need to take to be successful in whatever topic we’re discussing. And at some point, it’s clear that they’re getting part of what I’m suggesting but not all of it. So, I will either take out my computer tablet or a sheet of paper, and I will draw a simple diagram. Then their eyes light up! They understand the concept, and they often ask if they can keep that piece of paper or ask if I can send them a softcopy of what I wrote on my computer screen.

For many of us, when we hear hundreds of words mesh together to describe a series of next steps or a process, the words blur. We either lose focus, or there is a particular step or phrase that diverts our concentration. To avoid this when working with customers, we need to move those hundreds of steps to a simple graphic of 3-5 connected boxes. It simplifies it for those of us who are visual.

Take a Picture to Jog their Memory
Just as in the example that I shared where they asked to keep my sheet of paper, think about your pre-printed documents – maybe it’s the procedures on a wall poster. Maybe it is a hardcopy document that you were viewing with the customer about a contract, a policy, an agreement, or a process. Don’t expect people to remember what we say no matter how wonderfully we explain it.

Have them take a picture of it with their phone or give them a QR code so that they can go to the exact URL using their phone camera. Make sure that this visual representation that you provided to them is something that they can take with them to remember and refer back to in the future.

When having a conversation with a customer, gauge how well they’re understanding what you’re conveying.

When needed, paint a picture, and – so they remember – let them take a picture.

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Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies – 1/22/19

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Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was one of the first to wear a giant blue wig, exemplifying his craziness over his school’s team. You could see him coming from a mile away – or pick him out of a crowd of thousands, all because of the wig.

For us in customer service, we work with customers, and most are reasonable people who you can have reasonable discussions with about important topics, and you can come to a reasonable resolution. But then, you always have a few “Customer Crazies;” unfortunately they don’t wear giant blue wigs, so you can’t see them coming a mile away.

One such customer went to a local restaurant, was infuriated when the new owners of an establishment didn’t honor a coupon from the prior owners. The new owners tried to offer other free options in place of the coupon, but the customer stormed out. The customer later posted negative reviews on social media. The problem with the reviews was that the restaurant had proof (including video) that the customer wasn’t telling the truth.

Most of us have run into this situation, too. It’s the upset customer, or it’s the customer trying to get a freebie, or it’s the customer just outright telling falsehoods to get what they want.

Keep in mind that you only have control over half of conversations with customers. You can control what you say, how you say it, and what action you take; but you cannot control the customer. If you’ve done all you can do, sometimes feel good about what you’ve done even if the customer doesn’t seem to feel good about the outcome.

You can only control what you can control. Don’t dwell on what you can’t control.

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies.

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2018 Holiday Poem – 12/25/18

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Annually I write a note at this time of year,
And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer.

I try to encourage,
And I work to state the truth
Because as we continue to grow more “wise,”
We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth.

So this year I’d like you to continue
On a path set for you and the rest.
It’s a path where your impact on others
Is marked with positivity and success.

I want you to realize how much good you offer
How many solutions you provide and smiles you create.
Whether it’s with co-workers, sisters, or brothers
Your attitude and approach are great!

I want you to feel valued,
And others know it’s true.
For each day this past year and in the year to come
Is a little brighter because of you.

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