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

How to Deal with the Non-Conversational Customer – 4/24/18

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


The customer would not say much. He was giving one-word answers when you’re seeking information. It was “like pulling teeth.” Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was ticked off. Maybe it’s just the way he normally speaks.

Regardless of the reason for the lack of dialogue, you need information. You have other customers to serve. You need to make the conversation work.

When you find yourself in a situation with a customer who is basically non-communicative, here are some tips to still hold an effective conversation:

  • Start by asking simple close-ended questions such as “Did you make the purchase in the store or online?” A few close-ended questions create a dialogue and add a little bit of rhythm to the conversation. The conversation starts to flow.
  • Be very appreciative of any response they give. You may reply to their brief response by saying “That helps!” or “Great!” Then go to your next question. You’re creating a positive tone instead of showing any frustration with their brevity.
  • Explain why you’re asking the questions. Oftentimes the hesitation is because they either don’t know why you need the information, or they are making negative assumptions about why you seek the information.
  • Confirm everything back to them. Because the non-conversational types usually don’t give you a lot of information up front, to ensure you understand the full picture, you often have to piece together multiple responses to your multiple questions.

 
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone who is obviously giving you very little to go on, hold back in your frustration. Taken a couple deep breaths, then get into a rhythm, be appreciative, explain why you need the information, and confirm it all back.

Learn how to deal with the non-conversational customer.

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Channel Your Inner Consultant – 2/27/18

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Oftentimes, when we think about customer service, we think about responding to our customer’s need or issue. We think about resolving the concern or reacting to the emotion. But at times, it’s beneficial for us to take a step back. Think about our past experiences. Think about our past customers. Think about what works best for people in similar situations.

That opportunity to step back is one that’s presented to us more than we realize. And it often is an opportunity that presents itself when a customer or patient or season ticket holder or some guest is uncertain of what to do next. They have something they’d like to accomplish, so they have a goal in mind but not a path to the goal. We find ourselves responding to their questions as opposed taking a step back and thinking “What would I recommend would be the best course of action for this person at this time?”

At times like this, channel your inner consultant.

Don’t think of yourself purely as somebody who’s reacting or responding in the moment. Instead, also think about yourself as somebody who has a wealth of experience and knowledge from which your customer may benefit. This is something that is difficult to do in the heat of the moment with an irate customer, but if you find yourself talking to a customer who has a goal or need and is simply looking for clarity, options, or an understanding of what course of action to take, then this is the time to take that step back and put on your consultant hat.

Consider using phrases like these in response to that uncertain customer or that individual seeking guidance:

  • From my experience in working with customers in similar situations, I’d suggest…
  • Based on what you shared about what you are trying to accomplish, I recommend…
  • In this instance, your best course of action would be…
  • Here are couple options you should consider in your situation…


Don’t ignore your experiences and expertise. Use it to help your customer make the best decision.

Channel your inner consultant.

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Use Privacy to Keep the Peace – 2/20/18

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When conducting a Service Excellence Training session for an education client, I asked the staff from Student Services to describe situations where they encounter irate students. One of the employees noted how – when you correct the student or try to educate him on his part in the process – the conversation can either go really well or really badly. A student can either listen, understand, and move forward, or they can throw a royal fit. What’s the difference? The difference is WHERE the conversation takes place.

If the employee is noting what went wrong or telling the student that they needed to have taken some actions before showing up and they’re surrounded by students, the conversation can go negative very quickly.

However, the same conversation can take place with the same information presented by the employee in the same way, but where it takes place can elicit a totally different reaction.

The difference? Embarrassment.

The student can easily react defensively or angrily if information that puts them in a negative light is conveyed in a public environment. While this may seem intuitive, too often employees are engaging the student, the client, the patient, the family in a conversation in a public location that serves to do nothing but heighten the emotions of the customer.

In customer service, the privacy of the customer is actually your friend. Find ways to convey in a more private setting not only the bad news but also information about anything that the other person should have done or should have known.

Ensure that what you say doesn’t create an irate customer situation simply because of where you say it.

Use privacy to keep the peace.

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