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

Build their Confidence in You – 8/22/17

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The service and retention rep was getting quite a rep! Although Jessie had only been with this sports franchise for 10 months, she was continually getting unsolicited praises from her season ticket holders. They were e-mailing her boss, sending positive letters to other team executives, and sending her cards as thank you’s.

And while all that was great, her manager hadn’t been overly curious about why she was receiving all the accolades. The tipping point for him was when the annual seat selection and renewal process came around for the first time for Jessie, and her boss noticed something staggering. Although other representatives were averaging only 35% renewals of FIRST-YEAR season ticket holders and none surpassed 50%, Jessie was already over 80% renewals, and there was a month left before the deadline.

Her boss saw success – and the dollars she was generating – and he wanted to know how she was doing it.

“I’m not certain,” said Jessie. “They come in a little uneasy about the process of renewal, the commitment, the risk of changing seats or adding seats or upgrading seats – just like with the other reps’ accounts. I guess that the one thing I notice is that when my clients leave, they’re confident. They know what to do and how to do it; they know the benefits; they know what they’re going to get; they know they can trust me, so they’re comfortable, too.”

Jessie’s manager had always preached the importance of building emotion to make a sale or renewal, but Jessie’s approach was to breed confidence and comfort. She would listen to the account holder, understand their needs, and show her understanding of their concerns and apprehension.

She would explain the processes in clear and simple steps, and she’d explain how she’d helped many other clients through the decision-making steps and renewal processes successfully time and time again.

Jessie was credible, she painted a vivid picture of success, and instead of trying to create positive emotion, she eliminated negative emotions – the roadblocks to decisions. Instead of dominating the discussion, she listened and built the customer’s confidence.

Sometimes the best customer service you can provide doesn’t require you to provide anything. The best customer service is delivered when you take away the fears and anxieties of the customer and build their confidence.

To deliver great customer service, build their confidence in you.

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

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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

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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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