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Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau – 9/17/19

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The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. However, when something is put in writing in an e-mail, it needs to be considered a professional business document.

Now let’s not go overboard and think that e-mails need to be the work of a poet. This should not be Henry David Thoreau waxing poetic about Walden Pond. There is a middle ground, however, between texting and Thoreau. When composing a professional business message in the world of customer service, use these guidelines.

Personalize – Use the other person’s name, and use your name as well. Have enough informality so that they feel like you were talking to them individually and addressing their situation more personally. Use the names to establish a little bit of rapport in the sense that you are viewing them as unique.

Empathize – We’ve often said that emotions and e-mails don’t mix well, so to do your best to try to convey your understanding, at least use a little bit of empathetic wording. Use the word understand, use the word unfortunately when you have to give bad news, use the phrase I could only imagine… when addressing their frustrations.

Synthesize – This is where avoiding Thoreau is a really good thing. In e-mails, people want the message quickly; they don’t want to feel they’re reading a book. In 1 minute, can you tell them the main point that you’re making, convey next steps, share timeframes, and note who’s doing what?

In order to communicate effectively and in a professional manner via e-mail, find a happy medium between texting and Thoreau.

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Paint a Picture, Take a Picture – 2/5/19

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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 mean simply providing detailed instructions line by line. What I do mean is literally seeing a picture.

Many times over the years, I’ve been trying to describe a strategy, process, or some key steps to a client that they need to take to be successful in whatever topic we’re discussing. And at some point, it’s clear that they’re getting part of what I’m suggesting but not all of it. So, I will either take out my computer tablet or a sheet of paper, and I will draw a simple diagram. Then their eyes light up! They understand the concept, and they often ask if they can keep that piece of paper or ask if I can send them a softcopy of what I wrote on my computer screen.

For many of us, when we hear hundreds of words mesh together to describe a series of next steps or a process, the words blur. We either lose focus, or there is a particular step or phrase that diverts our concentration. To avoid this when working with customers, we need to move those hundreds of steps to a simple graphic of 3-5 connected boxes. It simplifies it for those of us who are visual.

Take a Picture to Jog their Memory
Just as in the example that I shared where they asked to keep my sheet of paper, think about your pre-printed documents – maybe it’s the procedures on a wall poster. Maybe it is a hardcopy document that you were viewing with the customer about a contract, a policy, an agreement, or a process. Don’t expect people to remember what we say no matter how wonderfully we explain it.

Have them take a picture of it with their phone or give them a QR code so that they can go to the exact URL using their phone camera. Make sure that this visual representation that you provided to them is something that they can take with them to remember and refer back to in the future.

When having a conversation with a customer, gauge how well they’re understanding what you’re conveying.

When needed, paint a picture, and – so they remember – let them take a picture.

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No Matter How You Say It, Say Thanks! – 11/20/18

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Gracias. Grazie. Gratias tibi. Obrigado. Tack. Merci. Danke. Thank You.

No matter how you say it, say it. Say Thank You. You can say Thank You in many different languages (shout out to Google Translate for what’s written above!). You can say it with your eyes, your gestures, your smile, and with a nod of the head.

You can say it in a written note or an email or a text. You can convey it face-to-face or on the phone. You can “like” a social media posting or send a little gift card of appreciation. You can say it in front of a group of co-workers or quietly convey it to the employee in the next cube.

You can do it at the start of the conversation or at the end of the conversation. You can do it each step of the way without having to wait until that process is done.

You can say it in a meeting or in front of someone’s boss.

One-on-one you can use the words thanks, appreciate, and value. In front of others you can use the words credit, acknowledge, recognize, salute, pay tribute, and even hail!

In America, it’s Thanksgiving week. So, let’s use that holiday as a good reason to be especially appreciative of co-workers and customers alike.

No matter how you say it, say it. Say Thanks!

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