employee

6 Actions for Attitude Adjustments - 2/18/20


The battle over one’s attitude can feel like a never-ending fight… I need to stop letting little things bother me. I need to not let that customer’s anger infect my mindset.  Just because my co-worker isn’t doing what they said they’d do shouldn’t mean that I should have an attitude Read more

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Make Complaints Constructive – 7/18/17

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


Sandy aspires to be an excellent manager. She’s new to a leadership role and new to the organization. She’s come into her department with a ton of passion and energy. And now she’s in the middle of her “listening tour” – talking to different groups of employees, understanding the department’s history, its culture, and its approach to customer service.

In the middle of her third meeting, all her passion and energy started to get sapped – minute by minute, complaint by complaint. She was listening to staff, but it had turned into a gripe session. Literally nothing she was hearing was positive. Issue after issue was voiced. Sandy thought about asking – “What is something/ANYTHING positive going on in the department?”, but she didn’t want to have her staff feel like they couldn’t voice complaints to her or that she only wanted to hear positives.

So she asked a different question: What are some solutions to the issues we’re discussing?

Crickets. Nobody said a word, for 5 seconds, then 15, then 30.

Sandy gave into the silence and said: For example, what can be done differently, more consistently, or better relating to communications, planning, decision-making, relationship-building – just the general work environment?

And finally, people started offering ideas – not a ton of ideas, but it changed the dynamic of the conversation. The tone became less negative, and staff offered some great solutions to consider.

There are many lessons to learn from this, but let’s focus on two.

First, managers, listen to your staff. Communication is a 2-way street, and that bi-directional dialogue is great for understanding culture, morale, and even customer viewpoints from those closest to the customers – front-line staff.

Second, growth only comes through change and improvement, so complaints without solutions aren’t productive – they don’t lead to improvement and growth. Staff should support leaders with ideas to complement the complaints. Likewise, when dealing with complaining customers, sometimes asking the customer “What could we do to make this right?” or “What solution would help in this situation?” could make our lives as service providers easier – with customers offering solutions for us to consider instead of employees having to conjure up all the creative ideas themselves.

Do you have a complaint? Are you dealing with a complaining customer or employee? Consider tapping into the ideas of those complaining to identify potential solutions.

Make Complaints Constructive.

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Learn How to Swim at a Young Age – 7/14/15 TOW

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When you’re 8 miles from the Canadian border in North Dakota, there’s not much reason to learn how to swim. As a child, you’re more concerned with shooting marbles, building a mini-igloo, and learning how to avoid frost bite.

That’s where and how I grew up, but as I grew older, and moved South, I wished I had learned to be a better swimmer. I wished that I had learned to breathe while doing freestyle. I wished I had learned to float instead of sink to the bottom like a rock.

The reason I wished I’d learned all these things at an early age is that – as I grew older – the fears of the water began to rise, and now the learning process was more about overcoming my mental outlook and fears than learning to refine swimming strokes. I wasn’t (and still today, am not) too old to learn, but it would have been SO MUCH EASIER to have learned swimming at an early age, and it would be so much more enjoyable to be at the pool today.

Maybe this is part of the reason I’m not a proponent of an approach with new hires in a business that is exclusively using on-the-job training. Most organizations have a mission, a vision, and core values. Many have customer service standards. Others have defined best practices for particular processes. Some organizations know what attributes of employees make some great and others more run-of-the-mill.

To assume that new employees will understand the mission, vision, values and standards naturally, to assume they’ll naturally conduct the work in the best manner possible, to assume that they’ll develop the attributes of the highest performing employees naturally is to set them up – and the company – for failure.

An organization with the intention of succeeding and thriving in a culture where employees drive high performance must be intentional about training their new staff on the “whys” of what they do, the expectations of their attitudes and mindsets, and the behaviors of those who excel.

Why? Because it is worlds easier to teach this to a new hire than to retrain and “rewire” a long-term employee.

Be intentional about training new hires to be stars for your company.

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Link and the $5 Mistake – 5/27/14 TOW

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It was Link’s first job – working in the retail shop – and he enjoyed it immensely. He was learning how a business runs, the importance of the customer to a company’s success, and his role in creating that success. He had these big picture lessons he was learning, even though his pay was minimum wage, and he basically did grunt work and occasionally ran the register.

He was one of those people in a small role, but you could see big things ahead for him.

One day, he was given the responsibility for closing the store and closing out the register. This was many years ago, so there was no credit card machine, and no computer system – it was all manual.

And as Link started shutting things down, he did a quick reconciliation between the cash in the drawer and the register tape. It was off by $5. And then it hit him; he had calculated the change wrong on the last customer of the day, and he gave Ms. Isaacs $5 change when it should have been $10. She was buying some supplies for an out of town trip, so Link knew she’d be gone for a while.

With no car to drive and no phone to call from (this is not that recent a story), he started walking. Block after block, mile after mile toward her house. When he arrived, he apologized to Ms. Isaacs, gave her the additional change, turned, and began the long walk home.

In case it’s not obvious, this is a slight twist on the Abe Lincoln story. But it goes to show that he wasn’t just a great President; he was also great at customer service. He enjoyed the job, looked at it as a learning experience, performed well regardless of the role, and enjoyed engaging his customers. He wasn’t perfect, but he resolved issues quickly, he didn’t make excuses, and he – literally – went the extra mile for his customers.

Abe wasn’t just “Honest.” He was also a really good customer service rep.