customer service

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

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

Get to Know Yourself Better – 1/30/18

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


Confidence in your ability to deliver customer service is exceptionally important. I often quote Vince Lombardi who said “Confidence is contagious, and so is lack of confidence. And the customer can recognize both.”

Confidence is important to you and to the customer. It lets the customer know whether they can trust and believe you, or not. Should they follow what you say, or should they “answer shop?” Should they accept your explanation, or should they ask you 15 follow-up questions? Much of their response (and whether they end up wasting your time or the time of your co-workers) is based on your confidence.

So, what creates confidence?

Judith Bardwick (management consultant, psychiatrist, author) once said: Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting yourself – your strengths and your limitations – in contrast to depending on affirmation from others.

Starting with the last point first, don’t seek affirmation from others in order to drive your confidence. If you receive the compliments, then great! That’s a bonus. But don’t rely on someone else to do something for you in order for you to create a positive self-image.

Bardwick believes that being confident outwardly is based on your inward knowledge. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses (or “limitations”)? Do you accept those? When I say “accept,” I’m not saying that you should refuse to improve, but at least be honest that that’s who you are at that specific moment.

Do this exercise to build your confidence in front of customers. Simply take out a sheet of paper, and write down 5-10 of your strengths that relate to customer service such communications, relationship-building, organizational skills, and other characteristics of people great at customer service. Then, write down 5-10 areas that are shortcomings or at least not your core strengths.

Then review the list. Tell yourself “yes, this is me at this moment. I am REALLY good at these 5-10. These other points are areas where I’m not great and may need to improve in the future.”

That knowledge and acceptance will help you to be more conscious of what to leverage when serving others (your strengths), and what situations to avoid or seek support in (your limitations).

Get to know yourself better to serve your customer more confidently.

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Be Great Offline – 11/28/17

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I’ve purchased from many different online organizations both personally and professionally over the years, as I assume most of you have, as well. And the ones I tend to go back to are those that make a good impression from a customer service standpoint. While that’s probably no surprise to you, what may be a surprise is how I and many others evaluate the customer service of online businesses.

Three online companies that have been great in those customer service encounters are Constant Contact, Zoho, and Zappos. These are three pretty different businesses, but the positives from my experiences with them have been similar.

First, they’re responsive to e-mails. Since I deal with Zoho quite frequently on important but non-urgent matters, I contact them via e-mail. They respond fast. They try to resolve before responding, but – if not – they’ll follow-up to let you know what investigation is taking place and by when they expect to resolve the issue or need.

Next, for these online companies, they’re great…on the PHONE! I’ve called all 3 businesses, and they pick up quickly, the representatives are consistently patient with me, and their personalities and tone are cheery and personable. With Constant Contact, they will let you know what can and can’t be done, and they ask you specific questions to give you specific answers to arrive at the holy grail of…FIRST CALL RESOLUTION – woo hoo!!

Finally, there’s a consistent theme of relaxed professionalism from website to e-mail to calls. No matter how you contact them, you get a consistent experience. They’re professional without being stuffy. They’re fun – a Zappos order receipt seems like a joyous (and abundantly clear) message from a friend about your purchase. Zoho doesn’t ask you to complete their Likert scaled survey, they give you the happy/sad face emojis to quickly rate the experience.

If you’re in a web-based business, to be a great online, be great at offline customer service. If you want to be part of a great business – one known for its customer service – don’t ignore all the different ways that your clients experience your customer service.

Be great no matter how they engage you.

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Are You a Debbie Downer or a Debbie Developer? – 11/14/17

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We’ve all heard of Debbie Downer (actually, if you haven’t, that’s probably a good thing). Debbie Downer was a character in “Saturday Night Live” – a person whose general attitude and actions brought down the environment, made everyone depressed – left others just sitting there…bummed.

However, I want to share something about a person of the same first name that I’ll refer to as “Debbie Developer.”

Debbie Developer is a client of mine (name’s been changed – I’m sure you’re shocked). She’s a training/development specialist, but much of her work over the past year has been with a new Service Excellence program. She’s well-respected by the CEO and has launched and successfully completed several large-scale initiatives over the past 2-3 years, in particular – initiatives that often go beyond the assumed responsibilities of someone in her role. And she does all this with a great customer service-oriented attitude.

Although her job is to develop skills in people, she also develops programs, she develops relationships, and she develops passion and energy around important projects. Here are three examples of how she develops with a customer service approach:

  • When she walks into a meeting, she’s curious, asks lots of questions, comes up with ideas. When someone comes up with a great idea, she literally says “That’s a great idea!” When someone asks an interesting question, she says “That’s an interesting question.” She engages, acknowledges, and reinforces others. She doesn’t just think positive thoughts – she conveys them to others.
  • When she’s given a task or project, she asks others how they would approach it, and she sends updates to keep them in the loop and let them know their input is requested and needed.
  • She’s quick to respond to e-mails and voice mails; in e-mails, she always starting with a greeting and ending with some positive statement or enthusiastic “Thanks!” She often calls instead of e-mails if there’s any need for dialogue or detail to best answer the co-worker’s e-mailed question.

 

This is simply a quick example of a person who exemplifies customer service excellence. She does it by doing the right things with the right attitude. She does it by treating others the right way.

Don’t be a Debbie Downer. Be a Debbie Developer.

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