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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

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

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

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


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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Let Your Words Change Their Tone – 7/10/18

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When we’re conducting web-based surveys for our clients, sometimes the respondent will bypass the survey and decide to send us an e-mail directly, or they’ll send us an e-mail in addition to the survey responses that they already provided online.

When we get these direct e-mails from the client’s customers, often they voice frustrations, and they either didn’t want to convey them through a survey, or they wanted to convey them in a way that emphasized their concerns. Sometimes they want us to rectify issues when they’re getting no direct solution from the company itself.

Whenever we receive these types of messages, we reply immediately. And every time we reply – regardless of their tone – we start by saying “Thank you,” and we end by saying “Thank you.”

It’s something that we emphasize when communicating with any customer, but it’s interesting that the mere statement of “Thank you” up front and the statement of “Thank you” in the end often changes how your message is received by the other person.

We frequently get follow-up e-mails from these irate customers, and they say “Thanks!” back to us for responding and getting the ball rolling. They apologize at times for dumping their frustrations on us. They change their tone in large part because we thank them for sharing their concerns with us.

Try this for a day or – even better – a week. EVERY TIME you talk to somebody on the phone, you respond to an e-mail, you see somebody face-to-face, start by thanking them for bringing something to your attention or for sending you the message. End by thanking them for what you learn from the conversation or for being willing to convey their message to you. This is not just for those irate customer situations. It is also for any conversation you have with a co-worker or customer.

It’s not as catchy as “ABC – Always be closing,” but “ABT – Always be thanking” can have a dramatic effect on others…and maybe even yourself.

By using the simple words “Thank you” at the start and by ending with “Thanks!”, your words can change their tone.

Use words to convey appreciation. See how the tone of conversations begins to change.

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