custserv

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

In Government, Do You Want Good Customer Service or Low Costs?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 3-19-14Quality, Price, Service – Select any 2.

This is the sign that supposedly hangs (or hung) in dry cleaners across the country. The point is, you can’t have all 3, so figure out – essentially – what you DON’T want.

In the world of customer service, organizations often have a similar question – Do we want good customer service or low costs?

This is based on the assumption that you can’t have great customer service without increasing costs. The recent article Water operations review in GA county seeks cost savings, customer service improvements notes how one Georgia county is trying to do both.

The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has hired a consulting firm to evaluate organizational efficiencies, but in doing so also improve customer service. There isn’t a great deal of detail in the article, but you can glean some of the strategy by what’s included in the article: “The partnership is also expected to improve customer service and reduce wait times for customers. A thorough review of the utility’s administration, planning, operations, maintenance and capital programs, customer service, and billing and collections will also occur.”

To improve customer service, one key is to view customer service as the composition of the employee attitudes and the service processes. More standardized, high-quality processes often are more efficient and result in less rework, fewer complaints to address, and higher productivity. This equates to lower cost.

The review of multiple departments suggests that they’re looking from a structure and process perspective to find inefficiencies in internal processes, internal communications, and communications about customer needs/issues. Streamlining internal processes often results in improved efficiency, and designing processes and customer communications to be better coordinated usually improves the customer experience.

It is definitely possible to reduce costs and improve customer service at the same time. The key is to look at processes and communications: Where is the poor quality? There’s a cost to poor quality. Where are the complaints? There’s a cost to address those. Where is there a lack of standardization? There’s financial benefit to moving to best practice. Where are the redundancies? There’s savings from eliminating waste.

Learn a little from these water works – focus on process and communications to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

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Create a Patient-Centered Culture

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

Zappos delivers great customer service, but its leader seems to talk mostly about his corporate culture. Disney is always brought up in seminars we provide for their great customer experience, but so much of what makes it a great experience is the consistently high performance of its “cast members.”

Culture and customer service are intertwined in great companies, and that’s why it’s no surprise that the article NY nurse executives focus on positivity addresses how to drive higher patient satisfaction by creating a patient-centered culture. According to the article, successful healthcare organizations possess a “strong unit and organizational leadership that promote a service culture tied to operations and finance; effective partnerships with patients and families; an engaged and satisfied workforce; and a strong performance improvement focus.”

Note what’s being discussed here…leadership that’s strong…leadership that promotes service…an organization that realizes patient/customer satisfaction is intertwined with operations (processes) and finance (business outcomes). They address partnering with customers, having motivated staff, and continually improving.

I agree with all these points; most cohesive cultures are created and fostered by leaders who have a well-articulated vision, who practice what’s preached, who understand the process impact on patient satisfaction and the patient satisfaction impact on financials.

But some of the “hows” are missing from the article. How do you get an engaged workforce? How do you continually improve? Leadership is the start, but that focus on patient satisfaction has to begin with your hiring process and criteria for staff, what you reward them for doing, and how you hold them accountable. A patient-centered culture requires training and an internal communication plan that is proactively conveying the messages to staff that you want repeated to patients. Patient-centered cultures require smooth information flow from patients and families to staff and leadership, so data-driven improvements can be made real-time when needed and through root-cause analysis when recurring issues occur.

To create a patient-centered culture, get leadership on board, and get the ball rolling through hiring, motivation, accountability, training, communications, process design, and continuous improvement.

Create a great culture with your people to create a great experience for your customer.

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Give Customer Service Some Definition

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

In the article New city administration sets priorities at day-long planning session, El Paso city officials met to identify 2014 goals. According to the article, “Customer service emerged as a key focus, for the new administration, during the planning session. The city’s mission statement says that it is ‘dedicated to outstanding customer service for a better El Paso.’ City Representative Larry Romero added that part of the city’s duty in providing high customer service is first identifying the priorities and levels of service needed. Deputy city manager Jane Shang said the city needs to revaluate and change processes to streamline city government and, ‘deliver services quicker and better.’

Based on those points, here are some nuggets for any business to consider:

  • A Mission Defines Your Daily Purpose. Use the Mission to guide your planning efforts. Are you aligning your plans to your Foundation Statements (Mission, Vision, Values)?
  • Define “Customer Service” for Your Organization. Customer service is a general term, so is it defined as the employee attitudes, systems, processes, facilities, or something else?
  • Define Where You Want to be GREAT! Don’t strive for perfection in everything – there have to be priorities set. Are you going to delight the customers with your attitudes, systems, processes, AND facilities? If so, do you have an unlimited budget?
  • Define Your Customer Service Standards. Where you don’t have an unlimited budget, define bare minimum expectations. If we’re not going to have facilities that resemble the Ritz-Carlton, what is at least a minimum expectation?

Whether you work for a municipality or not, to create a focus for your customer service initiatives, give customer service some definition.

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