employee

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

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, 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.