customer service

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

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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Build a Great Customer Experience – 11/7/17

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Over the last 5-10 years, much of the management thinking about how to create a great customer experience has changed. In the distant past, to design a great experience, organizations would create the environment, the policies, and procedures that would deliver what the customer wanted the way the customer wanted. This is a great approach.

More recently, much of the thinking about customer service has focused on the fact that culture is the main driver of a great client experience. While it’s wonderful to have a great environment, policies, and procedures, people are who deliver the service in that environment, who work within those policies, and who execute those procedures. Oh! And people (employees) are the ones who interact with customers. This culture focus, too, is a great approach.

But what drives culture? We often talk about those aspects of an organization that impact culture such as Mission, Leadership, Training, Incentives, Communications, etc. But what drives culture?

In the end, the people are the culture. You want people who care about the customer and can convey that to the customer. You want people who can care about the organizational mission and the employees they work with in living that mission daily. And you want people who can balance the care of the customer, the co-worker, and the company. So, in short, you want people who care.

Not to sound dramatic, but to build a great culture, to get people who care, you have to build the collective heart of the organization. Leaders need to care as much or more about their employees and customers as the employees care about those they serve. There has to be continual leadership focus on relationship-building with staff, showing you care about them as unique, talented individuals. There has to be a desire on the part of leadership to be vulnerable enough to ask staff for opinions and open enough to listen to them and share with them as well.

Employees will care more if they feel leadership cares, if leadership asks, listens, shares, and supports staff.

Building heart is not all on leaders, however. Staff need to do these same things with others – co-workers, customers, and even their bosses. The more we all listen, learn, support, and help others, the bigger the collective heart will grow.

Build heart to build culture and to build a great customer experience.

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The Bad Host – 10/24/17

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True story: The young couple and their child walked into the restaurant and stood for a minute at the host stand. When the host arrived, she immediately and quickly said “I can’t seat you right now. I’ve got to clean a table, and you’re just going to have to wait.”

Now read that statement again out loud (if you can); read it without a smile; read it with a high tone of voice; read it very fast.

This was something I witnessed several times in various forms over 45 minutes. The employee was obviously flustered. She seemed overwhelmed, and she was letting every customer know through her interaction. No greeting; no smile; no welcoming attitude – it was blunt, fast, direct.

When she made her statement to this family, the wife politely said, “Thank you for letting us know.” She then turned around and walked out, followed by the child and husband. Two other families walked out. Lost business, hurt reputation for the restaurant, and probably a couple postings on social media followed.

Who knows what the root cause of the issue was for this employee. Maybe she was just having a bad day; a co-worker or employee could have been rude to her. She may have been short-staffed or overwhelmed with the number of guests arriving. Maybe she was just a bad fit for that role.

Regardless of the reason for the issue, she should not have taken it out on customers just walking in the restaurant, hoping to have a relaxing, tasty meal with family and friends.

Sometimes we just need to be more self-aware when things aren’t going our way. It’s fine for us to have emotions – we’re all human. But also being human we have the ability and responsibility not to take out these frustrations on others – particularly innocent customers and co-workers.

Don’t be the Bad Host – check your emotions before connecting with others.

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