customer service

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

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

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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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Flip the Script – 6/6/17

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


Patti had had enough. Her cable was out, so she called the cable company, and after holding for close to 20 minutes, she got a call center representative on the phone.

After sharing the problem with the employee, Patti was told that the cause of the issue was in the home. She was told several different steps to take to reboot, reconfigure, or reset her system. Nothing worked.

Unbeknownst to Patti, at the same time, roughly 20 neighbors were also interacting with the cable company, dealing with the exact same issue, and the solutions weren’t working for any of them.

It’s probably apparent to you now what was happening. The 20+ customers couldn’t fix the issues in their homes because the issue wasn’t in their homes. The issue was cable-related outside the homes. Initially, the cable company didn’t know it, so – initially – they wasted their time and the time of the customers in trying to have the customers resolve the unresolvable issue.

Sometimes to see what should be done, we have to look at an example of what should not have been done.

Let’s flip this script.

What if the cable was never down? Or if it was down, what if the company would have sent a notification to customers sharing the concern and the action they were taking to investigate – with a time set for the next communication?

What if Patti called, but the wait was less than one minute, and the employee greeted with a name and an immediate understanding of the issue based on the phone number calling? The employee knew about the communication the company had sent, was empathetic, patient, and apologetic. What if the employee explained the process of researching the issue, provided typical resolution timelines (or at least reasonable expectations), and promised a follow-up e-mail at the customer’s request?

One interesting and easy way to envision great customer service is to first envision or discuss a horrible experience. Break down what went wrong, and then build up an example experience that would illustrate what it would have looked like had everything gone right.

To get better, flip the script.

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