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

The Error of “Everyone” – 9/24/19

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

A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted how customers want to be good stewards of the environment, they want sustainable solutions, they want to protect pollinators like bees, and they want pesticides used with discretion.

While these statements on what customers want are not exactly the most controversial statements in the world, somebody reading this article could easily make the assumption that all customers want all of these things. When customers are making decisions about whether to buy a service from a particular company, their decision is based purely on this criteria. One could read the article and assume that these are the absolute priorities for EVERYONE.

This concept – that everyone wants A, B, or C, that nobody likes D, E, or F, that the priorities how I state them are everyone’s priorities – this is a concept that I can’t agree with as a customer service consultant.

When defining what all customers want in absolute terms, it’s a slippery slope. To deliver great customer service consistently, to retain and grow business with customers, we have to view each customer as unique. If we assume everyone wants A, B, or C, and nobody wants D, E, or F, we are making decisions based on incomplete information. We are not allowing the customer to complete our understanding of THEIR perspective, THEIR preference, THEIR priorities before we make OUR decisions.

And when we make those assumptions, we put our foot in our mouth, we go down the wrong path, we do for others what they wouldn’t do for themselves (sorry for all the clichés).

To deliver great service, view and treat each individual as unique. Avoid the Error of “Everyone.”

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Are you the Output or the Input? – 6/25/19

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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

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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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