education

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put 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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