empathy

I Think I Think is Wrong - 10/20/20


I think that’s not going to be feasible.  I think we can do that.  I think you’re on the right track.  Methinks thou dost protest too much. Please forgive the Shakespearean reference, but it seems to fit well here.  When we are talking to co-workers and customers, and we’re giving Read more

Be Slowest, and Be the Best – Chick-fil-A - 10/13/20


About one week ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article that analyzed the results of a SeeLevel HX research engagement on the customer experience at fast food restaurants.  The results were seemingly contradictory.  The fast food chain with by far the overall best drive-thru experience was Chick-fil-A, and yet Read more

Connect During Customer Service Week - 10/6/20


It’s Customer Service Week…woohoo!  This week should be all about the customers we serve and the staff who serve them.  This should be about conveying we value other people, and – hopefully – having other people convey that they value us.  It’s a week about people – about us. This Read more

Temper the Tone of THE VOICE - 9/29/20


The television show The Voice is a singing competition.  The opening episodes of every season begin with individuals singing while judges have their backs to the singer.  The judges can’t see the singer, so they are evaluating the performer purely based on their voice. Oftentimes, when the judge turns around, Read more

Keep On Going - 9/22/20


Thomas Edison once said “Many of life’s failures are experiences by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” You are close to success – Keep On Going. Winston Churchill once said "If you’re going through hell, keep going."  This quote has been taken Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events


Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential Read more

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Meet on Equal and Even Ground – 7/21/20

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

“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service.

We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding of the customer – where they’re at and what their situation is at that time.  Thoreau is referencing the same thing.  For us to be of service to others, we need to try to get on equal ground, even ground.

Where is this other person at this moment?  Is the customer in an emotional state?  Are they upset or angry or anxious?  What did they do to get to this point where they are in front of us or on the phone with us or sending us the e-mail or text?  The answers to these questions provide the “ground.”  We create a common understanding of their current footing and how they got to this place.

But for us to best serve, we must also be equal.  How can we turn that understanding of their ground into creating a position of equality?  We have to think about how we’re speaking to that person.  We have to think about the words that we use based on their situation.  We have to consider how well we listen and how well we portray that we’re listening.  We have to use some of their words when responding in dialogue to them.  We need to reflect their tone or at least a slightly softer tone when they are loud.

To be of best service to someone, understand where they are and how they got there, then consciously try to reflect them.

To best serve others, meet on equal and even ground.

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Hearing is Believing – 12/10/19

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“I just want to be heard.”

When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with government services, there’s often only one place to go for a particular service – the government.

Residents understand that when there are issues, a local municipality won’t be able to offer a gift card or a 10% discount on the next purchase.  Residents understand that a complaint won’t result in some compensation or possibly even a fix.  So, what do residents want?  Many just want to be heard.

Usually when a resident is venting to me about a government client, when they say that they want to be heard, they’re typically referring to two things:  The attitude and the action.  A listening attitude is conveyed when the employee is focused on them, the employee is patient about the issue, doesn’t interrupt, and is empathetic and understanding about the situation.  Residents want to know you understand what’s unique about them, possibly by stating the situation back to them.  And they want the body language and the tone to reflect that listening orientation.

But being heard also can imply action.  Maybe the employee said all the right things in the right way to the customer, but if the employee does nothing with the information, often residents interpret that inaction as not being heard.

Now, taking action doesn’t necessarily mean resolving the issue.  But at least investigate it further.  Ask a co-worker for advice.  Suggest an alternative solution.  Let them know you’ll share the concern with leaders so that similar situations don’t happen to others.  Tell them what they could do in the future so that the situation won’t arise again.  And if you did something for them, tell them that you did it.  They won’t know you took action until you tell them you did so.

Many complaining customers just want to be heard, and not until they feel that they have been heard do they believe that you care.

Convey you care by conveying you heard them with your attitude and action.

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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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