expectation

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

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“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 Read more

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

Back to Reality…for Customer Expectations – 7/30/19

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

Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?”

Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is ‘X’ minutes?”

Have you ever begun the process of getting a permit to build a deck on a home and been given a form that says what each step in the process involves, when you need to do each step (including inspections), and whom you need to contact?

You may reply “no” to all of these or “yes” to some, but these are examples of companies who understand the importance of trying to set or manage customer expectations. These companies understand that that first person may complain after waiting 5 minutes if they don’t realize that a 15-minute wait is realistic. These companies realize that that second customer may get irate or take their business elsewhere if they had to wait on the phone 2 minutes but might be more patient if their expectation is a 3-minute wait. These companies understand that a customer educated on a process is more comfortable and less likely to have issues with it, less likely to do things incorrectly.

Companies who attempt to proactively set or manage expectations understand the importance of the customer having some concept in their mind of what the reality is going to be; that makes it more likely that the customer will be satisfied with the experience, and the employee won’t have to deal with an irate customer.

Where can your company proactively set an expectation with customers about how long a process will take, how long a wait might be, what actions are about to take place, or what they need to do?

Determine where the opportunities to set expectations exist, and then use signage, messaging, documentation, and direct one-on-one conversations to do whatever you can to set (or reset) your customers’ expectations.

Get customer expectations back to reality.

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Make it Crystal Clear – 5/21/19

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

Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. And if the other person doesn’t understand what you’re conveying, they could have an expectation that’s unrealistic.

Noted below are 10 statements an employee might make to a customer. At face value, most may seem very typical and pretty clear:

  1. That won’t take long.
  2. The process is described on the website.
  3. You need to fill out a GARBA.
  4. You’ll hear back from us not too long after we receive the results.
  5. I need your ID.
  6. The first thing you need to do is to set an appointment.
  7. Just call any time if you need help.
  8. Call the main number, and we’ll get that for you.
  9. I’m going to transfer you (then the caller hears a click and rings).
  10. Once you send in a work order, the maintenance folks will be in touch and address it quickly.

So, what’s wrong with these? Here are 10 things to consider (the #s below correspond to the #s above):

  1. “Won’t take long” might be interpreted differently by different people – 1 hour to the customer v. 1 week to the employee.
  2. The website has many pages; be more specific; make it easy for the customer to find the specific page.
  3. What is a GARBA? Avoid acronyms whenever possible.
  4. How long is “not too long?” And when do you expect to receive the results? Both timeframes are unclear.
  5. A customer may have several ID’s. Which one is needed?
  6. The other process steps are not described.
  7. What number should the caller call and when?
  8. What’s the main number? How long will it take to “get that?”
  9. It’s not clear why the caller is being transferred, to whom, etc.
  10. It’s not clear how to send the order, who will respond to the customer, what “in touch” means, and what “quickly” means.

To effectively set or manage expectations, ensure you’re being as clear as the customer needs.

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Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma – 4/23/19

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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 company level. Next week, we’ll address the question at the individual employee level.

At the company or strategic level, the discussion usually centers around some change the organization is about to make. Maybe they’re going to test something in operations or in a system or with a service that might have some negative ramifications to the customer. Maybe they’re going to eliminate a perk or benefit that many customers utilize. Maybe they’re going to change a policy or procedure or stop providing a feature that customers enjoy.

So, should that company tell the customer? If the company doesn’t tell the customer, it oftentimes is because they don’t even think about the customer. They are so focused on their project or their product or their process or their promotion that they don’t think about everybody who might be impacted. Sometimes they’re trying to avoid complaints by not drawing attention or awareness to a change some customers might not like.

A way to answer this question at the company level is to keep in mind that problems are created when a customer expects “A” and they get “B”. Also keep in mind, that when a customer brings a problem to the attention of the organization, the customer’s in control of how that conversation goes. However, if the company takes control of that conversation by notifying the customer of what’s going to change, the company has control over what that message is, how it’s delivered, and within what environment that message is sent.

While there is no one pat answer to this question, most organizations in most situations need to tell the customer. They need to be upfront on what’s going to change so that they can maintain some control over how that communication goes with the customer.

Few organizations have failed because they are too proactive, too open, and too honest with their customers.

When deciding whether or not you should tell the customer, lean toward those options which build trust and transparency with your customer.

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