customer service

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

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


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, Read more

Empower Yourself to Go Against the No – 7/4/17

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

In our customer service roles, wouldn’t it be great to be able to do and say what we needed to do and say? Too often, we feel limited by policies, procedures, and the unwritten rules of “how things are done around here.”

But we have to periodically ask ourselves, “If I can’t do something that – in my gut – I know I SHOULD do, what’s keeping me from doing it? Why don’t I feel like I have that freedom?”

It’s easy to be told “No – don’t do that,” and accept it. It’s harder to go against the No. It’s hard to do something that you know is the right thing for the customer, even though it may not be a generally accepted practice within your organization.

How many times have you thought to yourself that you really want to do something, you really want to share information, you really want to make a referral, you really want to offer an alternative – but you feel like you can’t. In order to do these things for the customer sometimes you have to convince others within your organization.

Here are some quick tips to help you do what you need to do for the customer to turn the internal organizational No to a Yes:

  • Be able to explain WHY this is the action to take.
  • Give some thought to what’s in it for that other employee that you’re trying to convince.
  • Be able to articulate that what is best for the customer is also best for the company long-term.
  • Understand what concerns could arise from your co-worker or supervisor, and determine how you’ll respond.

 
This is core advice for preparing for a potentially tough conversation, but keep in mind that any potential conflict that would arise would happen because you care about the customer. You’re trying to do right by the customer. Therefore, know that – what you’re doing – you’re doing for a great reason.

Empower yourself to do what’s right on behalf of the customer.

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Avoid the 1-offs – 6/20/17

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


How do customers get unrealistic expectations? Sometimes they just dream up an expectation because they don’t know any better. Maybe they’ve never worked with your type of service before. Maybe they saw an advertisement that was big on promises and short on delivery details. Maybe they got their expectations from their experience with a competitor.

Most of these sources of unrealistic expectations are not controllable. But there is one source that is controllable – the 1-off.

A 1-off is simply an experience they had with you or a member of your company that was a “1 time only exception to the rule.” They got special treatment that they – frankly – should not have gotten. Now they expect that treatment every time. Their expectation is now unrealistic, so in the future they will ask you or your co-worker for something you can’t deliver.

“They did this in an hour for me last time. The rep did this for me last time. Bob said I didn’t have to complete that paperwork last time. Bonnie waived that policy last time. It didn’t cost me anything last time.”

While these 1-offs are great for defusing (or outright avoiding) a conversation with an irate customer, the long-term effect is setting yourself or co-worker up for failure in a future discussion with that same customer – or the 5 friends they bragged to about their special treatment.

Believe me – I’m not saying to NOT treat customers special (my apologies to those of you who hate double-negatives). I think we need to treat all customers as unique and special. What I am saying is treat them special with your attitude, your effort, your creativity, your focus, and your willingness to go above and beyond.

Just don’t let the special treatment mean that you’re creating an unrealistic expectation of what your co-worker is allowed to do the next time that customer contacts your business.

Avoid the 1-offs.

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Take a Starring Role – 6/13/17

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


Oftentimes during Service Excellence training, I will ask participants to identify companies known for great customer service. People often bring up Chick-fil-A, Disney, and some high-end Retail Stores. We’ll occasionally get QuikTrip mentioned or an organization like Amazon.

Then the question is asked: What about the experience makes you consider that organization to have great customer service?

I ask this question because I want participants to use their own personal life experiences to paint a picture of a great experience for their customers. Once attendees can envision what a great experience looks like from the customer’s perspective, it’s easier for them to understand what the experience needs to look like in their own company.

Essentially, I want them to picture those actions like they’re watching a movie – then envision that the great experience is happening in their own organization. Next, I want the participants to picture themselves playing a starring role in that movie.

Based on a recent client brainstorming session, these are examples of actions and attitudes of employees in companies that provide great customer service:

  • Staff engage customers
  • Staff share their name, ask the customer’s name, and personalize the conversation
  • Staff act like they’re happy to see the customer (it’s a great 1st impression)
  • Staff smile and use a positive tone of voice
  • Staff have a mindset of treating customers as “Guests”
  • Staff understand processes
  • Staff are empowered to take action on behalf of the customer
  • Staff go the extra mile for the customer
  • Customers are treated like they’re #1
  • Answers are quick, helpful, professional, and responsive
  • There is a plan for how to solve problems
  • Issues are resolved – quickly
  • Customers feel heard
  • Staff take pride in the workplace – even simply by keeping the area clean
  • Common sense is more important than policy
  • Before closing, staff make sure they addressed all the customer’s needs
  • When thanked by the customer, staff say “My pleasure,” and mean it.

 
These are just some of the actions and attitudes that employees can adopt to deliver a great experience.

Use these tips, and imagine yourself being the star of a movie about your organization and the great service it provides.

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