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

A Dent for Dana – 5/16/17

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


There was no hot water in the house when Dana got home from work, so she walked downstairs to the basement to find a mini flood. Apparently a neighbor had put so much yard waste into a sewer drain that – after a heavy rain – water got backed up…and flowed right into Dana’s basement – yuck.

More than that, the water rose high enough to burn out the hot water heater – a wet basement and no hot water…joy.

But Dana had a good attitude about it; the water and gas utilities came out quickly to find the cause of the problem and to diagnose the issue with the water heater. In the end, the yard waste was cleared out, the water level went down, and there was no other lasting damage – except for a dead water heater.

Dana contacted two companies, and the winner was selected to install the new water heater. The installers were nice, discussed the process with Dana, and worked independently in the basement as Dana worked upstairs. When they were finished, they left. How did Dana know they left? She saw them driving away.

So she checked the water, and it was starting to warm. Then she went downstairs to look at the beautiful new water heater, and it had a big dent in the bottom. Dana’s heart sunk. “I didn’t pay for a used water heater.” “I hope it’s not damaged inside.” “I hope it’s safe, and the gas lines aren’t compromised.”

Dana frantically began googling and after about 30 minutes realized it was probably just a cosmetic issue, but she was still frustrated, upset, disappointed – you name it. She called the company, and the manager said he’d check with the installers and call Dana back.

When they called back, the manager stated that they dented it during the install, but it was just cosmetic – no internal issues. He offered a discount to Dana on any future service.

While there are a lot of issues with this true customer service story, here’s where I’m focused. This customer had just purchased something new, something to address an issue she didn’t cause with the basement flooding. Yet, through it all she had a good attitude.

Then the employees dented the water heater, didn’t tell the customer, and drove off – leaving Dana having spent hundreds of dollars to alleviate an issue only to have that resolution cause her anxiety, frustration, and upset.

Nobody’s perfect; we all make mistakes; accidents happen (Yes, I’m rolling out every excuse – uh, “explanation”). But that does not mean that accidents are irrelevant.

We need to own up to our mistakes with customers; be willing to apologize – even for the accidents. Initiate the conversation with the customer and be willing to say “I’m sorry,” even before the customer knows there’s an issue.

It’s about being proactive and professional.

Learn from the Dent in Dana’s Water Heater.

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Turn 4% Feedback into 100% – 5/9/17

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Only 4%. That’s the percentage of customers that have a problem with an organization that will come right out and tell you about it. Sure, they’re happy to post a review on Yelp, or post a complaint on their Facebook or Instagram account. They’ll tell their buddies or relatives, but most won’t tell you.

Then they may return to your business – or not – but either way the bad word-of-mouth is out there.

Many companies understand the huge negative financial impact of poor experiences, so they conduct surveys, mystery shop, and try to improve their customer service based on the Voice of the Customer.

But what can you as an individual do to uncover any issues when you’re engaged with the customer? You can simply ask, and here are Ten Ways to Ask for Feedback:

  • (For incoming callers who go through a phone tree) How was your experience in getting through to me today?
  • What do you think of our store (or website)?
  • How has your experience been?
  • Is there anything we could have done to have made your experience better today?
  • Did you get your questions answered?
  • Did we address your need?
  • Did you find everything you needed easily?
  • How helpful has this (or – have we/I) been to you?
  • What was our process like for you today?
  • Do you have any suggestions about how we can improve our service?

When you get this feedback, you hear the voice of the customer before they leave the door. You turn the 4% into close to 100%. You have an opportunity to address any additional needs or issues. You positively impact word-of-mouth. You allow yourself the opportunity to retain. You make the unknown known.

Don’t let the customer’s complaint fester. Get the customer’s opinions before the conversation ends.

Turn 4% feedback into 100%. It will help you to fix problems on the spot, keep more customers, and get more thank you’s from the customers themselves.

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How to Show the Opposite of Indifference – 4/25/17

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


Sometimes the best way to define a word is to say it’s the opposite of another word – and then define that other word.

What is darkness? It’s the absence of light.

What is lethargic? It’s the opposite of energetic – where you move and you have the capacity to move. Imagine remembering people’s names easily, getting work done – the right work at a high pace; imagine maintaining your focus and your positive attitude all day long.

Now let’s define a key customer service word by painting a picture of opposites. Many studies have noted that – roughly 68% of the time – the primary reason customers stop going to Company A and move to Company B is that they perceive Company A is indifferent to them.

Therefore the question is: What is indifference?

  • It’s the opposite of responsiveness, where you quickly reply to messages, immediately take action on issues, and effectively manage customer expectations.
  • It’s the opposite of proactivity – where you initiate conversations with clients, even when you know the conversation is going to be on a difficult subject.
  • It’s the opposite of engagement – where your eyes, your gestures, your body language, and your tone convey interest in the other person and their situation.
  • It’s the opposite of caring – where the customer feels like you are concerned with their issues, needs, goals, and feelings.
  • It’s the opposite of follow-through, where you ensure the client got that need addressed.

 
If indifference is such a retention-killer for a business, do whatever you can to ensure you’re not perceived in that manner.

Show responsiveness, proactivity, engagement, caring, and follow-through.

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