excellence

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

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged – 7/23/19

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

The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going to ignore her and not make eye contact and hope somebody else deals with her.

The patient walked into the doctor’s office, and he saw that there was no line. There were 3 receptionists all looking at their computers. He didn’t know which line to go in, so he stood there, and nobody looked up. He then said “Hello” to nobody in particular, and one of the receptionist’s said: Last name.

The season ticket holder had a question about the survey that had just been emailed to her. So, she clicked on the e-mail address in the invitation and sent an e-mail to the research firm. The research firm replied with an answer within the hour. The customer replied right back: Thank you so much for the quick reply! I was actually kind of surprised that you sent an email. Whenever I email the team, they don’t reply unless I am asking for additional seats for a game.

These are 3 stories that happen all too often in business, and they are examples of bad customer service…when there is no customer service. Oftentimes, bad customer service is reflected in what employees do wrong or how a business is set up to make it difficult on the employee to deliver good service.

But many times, it’s the lack of service that is bad customer service. It’s a lack of a response to the e-mail. It’s the lack of the greeting to the patient. And it’s the lack of taking care of an issue caused by other customers, and that issue becomes a bad experience for everybody sitting in that waiting room.

Sometimes the best way to deliver a good experience is simply to show up. Respond to messages. Initiate a conversation with a greeting, a welcome. Address that irate customer before they create an environment that spreads negativity to the other customers.

For excellence to happen, get engaged.

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Turn it Off – 12/27/16

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Prior to starting Customer Service Solutions, Inc., I worked as an internal consultant in a large urban hospital. To help the leadership quickly gauge overall performance of individual departments and create a focus on key metrics for individual department heads, my team was charged with creating “Excellence Reports.” These were brief reports which highlighted the 1-3 most important metrics for each department.

For the first 12-18 months, my team compiled the metrics and created reports, and the reports fostered great dialogue with department heads about how to use the information, the causes of downward trends, and how to best share the information.

Then for about a 2-month stretch, it was crickets. I received no questions or feedback from any department heads. So I went to my COO, told him the situation, and asked what he’d suggest. I thought he’d recommend creative ways to re-engage the managers, to reconfigure the reports, or to adjust my communications.

Instead, the COO said “Turn it off.”

“What?”, I replied. He said “Turn it off. If they start calling and asking where the Excellence Reports are and are wanting the data, then you can inquire about how it’s being used, it’s value, etc.”

So I turned them off. One month passed – no contact from managers. Two months passed – no contact from managers. The crickets continued.

Sometimes we start something in work that has great purpose and value, but if we’ve been holding that meeting, sending that memo, creating that report for years, at some point we have to question if it’s still of value to others, if it’s still worth my time to produce, if it really helps me to better serve my customers.

If not, then consider turning it off. It could save everyone time and release at least one of the many things you’re responsible for in the new year.

Once in a while consider turning it off.

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It’s the Customer…Run!! – 5/17/16 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


It was a simple question with a simple answer – all part of a simple story.

With a letter to mail, Michael went to the front desk at his office and asked “Has the postman come yet?” Sandy, the receptionist, replied “Yes, you just missed him – I’m sorry.” Michael said “That’s okay, I’ll just go downstairs and put it in the blue mailbox since they pick that up at 3:00 p.m.”

Then Sandy said “No – wait.” She took the letter, smiled, and ran to the elevator; she pressed the button, and the elevator doors immediately opened. She smiled at the postman holding the mail bin, dropped the letter in the bin, and ran back to the reception desk.

Yes, the employee actually ran to help the customer. Simple story, but WOW!

The only problem is that this simple service excellence doesn’t happen every day in today’s business world.

In today’s world, the receptionist lets the customer go mail their own letter downstairs.

In today’s world, the employee might go as far as to tell the customer to run to the elevator and push the button so that he might catch the postman.

In today’s world, the employee doesn’t make the effort – let alone RUN – to try to catch the elevator. In today’s world, the employee doesn’t smile at the postman or run back to her desk.

She ran. She smiled. She took initiative. She ran back.

How many times do we see employees try to avoid us at the big box home improvement store, or if they’re running, they’re running AWAY from us?!

Take the initiative. Take the burden off the customer’s shoulders. Show urgency on the customer’s behalf.

Run – sometimes literally run – for the customer.

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