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

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer – 12/18/18

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


Jenny lives on a farm, and she’s often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys a cup of coffee when she’s there.

At times, Jenny goes to get take out, and she has a special place where the family loves its Philly cheesesteaks. This is not in Philadelphia, and this is not necessarily one of those great hole-in-the-wall eateries. It’s essentially a chain restaurant at a mall, but Jenny goes there because she likes the Philly cheesesteaks, and she enjoys chatting with Mitch; he’s basically the point person at the restaurant, filling orders and engaging the customers.

Jenny can get hay anywhere, but she especially enjoys going where she’s going. She’s not just there to get someTHING, but she goes there because she interacts with someBODY that she likes. She is literally paying for the hay, but she is also paying for the experience and the rapport and the enjoyment of talking to Marie.

She could literally get a Philly cheesesteak at places closer to her than the 15-mile drive to the mall. However, she enjoys the food, and she enjoys chatting with Mitch. She enjoys not just getting the THINGS she ordered, but she enjoys talking to someBODY pleasant while she’s waiting on her meal.

It is not all about the product, people!

Even if that’s what the customer may be literally paying for, in reality, many customers are also paying for the experience. They’re not just buying someTHING, but they want to have a good experience with someBODY.

Even though you might sell a product or service – a meal for the horses or a meal for the family – be SomeBODY to your customer.

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A Representative Success! – 12/11/18

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I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing.

She knows her customers so well that when she sees their phone number pop up as they call her, she immediately knows who it is that’s calling. She immediately recalls: Jane is a cat person; Bob’s been having a hard time lately. She then starts the conversations by asking about their kids or their family or their work or their pets.

She thinks of these nuggets and utilizes them for those she cares about – her customers.

There are thousands of individual products and hundreds of pieces of equipment and parts that her company sells and services. But she is exceptionally knowledgeable about the details such that she not only knows what the product is, but she also knows which clients might be interested in which products based on which promotions.

She is fortunate to be in a company where the culture is more about relationship-building and development than it is about quick handle times on the call. That positive cultural focus enables her to be patient with the customers in-the-moment as well as to think long-term about how she handles the call today and the impact that will have on her relationship and sales moving into the future.

She communicates frequently and freely with her regional sales managers, and they have a clear understanding of when and why one would communicate with a particular client versus the other.

The skills and attributes of this individual are the skills and attributes of somebody who truly cares about her customers and cares about her job as well. These are attributes that focus on long-term thinking, and the result is long-term success.

Learn from this representative’s best practices!

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Do Nothing for the Customer, and Make Them Happy – 6/26/18

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Thomas did nothing for me, and I was impressed. I was walking down the hall at my office a couple weeks back, and Thomas, the maintenance manager, stopped me. Apparently, the people in the office next door were suffering from undo heat in the middle of summer, and I had two cooling vents in my office, one of which was unused. The temperature in my office was absolutely fine, as Thomas had made an adjustment for me a couple years ago.

Thomas asked “Are you going to be in the office at 6 AM tomorrow?”

“No,” I said. Thomas said that he would be in my office at 6 o’clock to switch one of the vents over to the hotter office, and he just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t inconvenience me if he was there from 6 AM to 6:30 AM.

When I walked into my office the next morning, everything felt the same. Virtually everything looked the same except there was a tiny bit of white dust on my desk from the ceiling tiles. Thomas obviously had been in my office, he had left, and according to the people in the office next to me, their office was much cooler because of his work.

Technically, Thomas did not do anything specifically for me. He did it for someone else, but I left impressed. He asked my permission before entering my office. He came in at an exceptionally early time in order to avoid inconveniencing me. He did work that I’m sure was physical and somewhat messy, and yet he left my office looking the same as when he entered.

Sometimes we can impress our customers without doing anything specifically for them.

Consider if you do a great job communicating that certain technology is going to be down for maintenance, and since the customer knows that, they avoid those times and never experience the downtime.

Consider situations where an employee sees you waiting or senses you have a need, and they proactively engage you and let you know what they’re doing and why they might be a couple minutes before they can serve you. Essentially the employee is doing work for others, but you appreciate their consideration of you and your time.

You don’t always need to WOW the customer. Just proactively communicate expectations.

Do nothing for a customer, and make them happy.

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