excellence

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Turn it Off – 12/27/16

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


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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I Know It When I See It – 7/28/15 TOW

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“I know it when I see it.”

In 1964, a United States Supreme Court justice used these words to determine whether a movie was an “obscenity” or not. He couldn’t define an obscenity with words, but he concluded that this particularly movie couldn’t be accurately described using that word (or other words the plaintiffs were using…).

It’s 51 years later, and for some reason that quote applies to a lot in life. Some things are hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Believe it or not, mediocre customer service is one of those things. I’m not talking terrible customer service – that’s typically easier to note than great customer service, but I’m talking about the little things that differentiate the below average from the above average, that differentiate the predictably poor from the predictably good, that differentiate those that don’t care from those that do care.

There is no perfection in life. There is no perfection in serving customers, either. It is as much an art as a skill or an attitude. It’s not pure science, but there are examples of that better interaction that show you that the person or the company got it right in customer service:

  • When the employee greets you they either stand or remain seated.
  • They either smile or they frown.
  • Either their eyes are engaged with you or distracted.
  • Either they face you or they don’t.
  • They either say “I’d be happy to help” or “no problem.”
  • When you turn in information, they either respond “that’s perfect,” or they don’t respond at all.
  • They either say “I’ll call you back,” or they say “you call me back.”
  • They either apologize for the company’s error, or they avoid the apology.
  • They either thank you for your time and question, or they end the call in silence.
  • Either they ask you questions, or they wait for you to ask them questions.
  • They either go to you, or they wait for you to go to them.
  • They either confirm what you need, or they assume it.
  • They either confirm you got the need met, or they move on to something else.

These examples don’t necessarily illustrate the “WOW!” moment, but they illustrate the little things that create consistent excellence.

When it comes to the consistently positive customer service experience, the customer knows it when they see it.

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