education

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

Use Privacy to Keep the Peace – 2/20/18

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


When conducting a Service Excellence Training session for an education client, I asked the staff from Student Services to describe situations where they encounter irate students. One of the employees noted how – when you correct the student or try to educate him on his part in the process – the conversation can either go really well or really badly. A student can either listen, understand, and move forward, or they can throw a royal fit. What’s the difference? The difference is WHERE the conversation takes place.

If the employee is noting what went wrong or telling the student that they needed to have taken some actions before showing up and they’re surrounded by students, the conversation can go negative very quickly.

However, the same conversation can take place with the same information presented by the employee in the same way, but where it takes place can elicit a totally different reaction.

The difference? Embarrassment.

The student can easily react defensively or angrily if information that puts them in a negative light is conveyed in a public environment. While this may seem intuitive, too often employees are engaging the student, the client, the patient, the family in a conversation in a public location that serves to do nothing but heighten the emotions of the customer.

In customer service, the privacy of the customer is actually your friend. Find ways to convey in a more private setting not only the bad news but also information about anything that the other person should have done or should have known.

Ensure that what you say doesn’t create an irate customer situation simply because of where you say it.

Use privacy to keep the peace.

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It’s About Leadership and Appreciation – 7/5/16 TOW

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


CSS does a lot of work with local government, education, and healthcare organizations. They all have a great deal in common. They typically have tons of customer interactions using various methods – phone, in-person, e-mail, etc. They have many policies, procedures, regulations, and laws to which they must adhere. They’re typically mid-to-large sized organizations, and creating an engaged and aligned workforce can be a challenge.

We’re working with one client in particular on culture change, and in a recent survey of staff, we asked them to describe their desired culture and what’s needed to create it. Two themes came up repeatedly in response to the “What’s needed” question – Leadership and Appreciation.

Leadership. Many staff said that the culture needs to start with leadership. Managers need to model the organizational values and customer service standards. Executives need to treat the staff like they expect staff to treat the customers.

Appreciation. In these types of organizations, legal, political, and financial barriers limit the amounts and types of financial compensation, incentives, and rewards that can be provided to employees. So in this survey, staff focused on Appreciation. They wanted to be recognized for good work and behaviors that align to the organizational values. They liked some of the initiatives that the organization had already put in place that enable staff to recognize each other. They wanted to feel valued, and that sense of being valued is in part driven by the Appreciation of their attitudes, skills, knowledge, and quality work.

An engaged workforce – having employees truly passionate about the company, its customers, and their role in the success – is not easy to create, but it can be done.

And it starts with a concerted effort to address two themes.

Start with Leadership and Appreciation.

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Set Time Aside – 4/19/16 TOW

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


Many of our clients struggle when changing organizational culture, impacting morale and organizational success, or getting staff to focus on what’s most important. Great ideas are created, but they often don’t become a sustained reality.

The solutions to this issue with real change not occurring or not sustaining often boil down to one key point: You have to set time aside.

Example #1 (Embedding in Education) – A CSS education client is having difficulty embedding some of its Core Values into its culture. They are communicated periodically, activities are developed for leaders to use with staff, but the culture change is slow and inconsistent. One solution that they are now undertaking involves making these Core Values a standing Agenda item for every meeting. At least 5 minutes of every meeting are set aside for some action, story, recognition, reinforcement, or activity that addresses Core Values. Best case, that Core Value agenda item aligns to the meeting goal, but in any case the values are embedded into their existing meeting structures.

Example #2 (Getting Buy-in in Government) – A local government client of ours is trying to accomplish two key goals concurrently: Raise performance and improve morale. One of the big morale issues is that front-line staff felt that decisions were made by a few leaders with no input from the staff charged with implementation. Putting the plans in place was invariably done last minute, resulted in unforeseen issues, created NO staff buy-in, and put stress on staff. The solution? Ongoing Employee Roundtables are being created; leadership is setting time aside on a recurring basis to get staff input and ideas early on when new products, policies, and processes are being considered. This creates buy-in, makes for better ideation, reduces staff stress, and decreases backend fire-fighting post-implementation.

Example #3 (Reviewing Sports Research) – We have worked with a sports client to create a Voice of the Fan research program for its events at multiple venues, but some venues (typically lower performing ones) aren’t using the data as completely as they could and aren’t participating in the post-survey debrief calls. The solution? The client now requires all venues to set aside time for the debrief calls, and the corporate staff participates on the calls. The venue staff are now ending these calls excited by what they learned, knowing how to best use the results, and aware of the retention and revenue growth opportunities available.

So what are your ongoing organizational challenges? Maybe the challenges are not being effectively addressed because time is not being consistently devoted to the topic.

Set Time Aside.

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