expectation

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


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. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

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

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


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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Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies – 1/22/19

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


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was one of the first to wear a giant blue wig, exemplifying his craziness over his school’s team. You could see him coming from a mile away – or pick him out of a crowd of thousands, all because of the wig.

For us in customer service, we work with customers, and most are reasonable people who you can have reasonable discussions with about important topics, and you can come to a reasonable resolution. But then, you always have a few “Customer Crazies;” unfortunately they don’t wear giant blue wigs, so you can’t see them coming a mile away.

One such customer went to a local restaurant, was infuriated when the new owners of an establishment didn’t honor a coupon from the prior owners. The new owners tried to offer other free options in place of the coupon, but the customer stormed out. The customer later posted negative reviews on social media. The problem with the reviews was that the restaurant had proof (including video) that the customer wasn’t telling the truth.

Most of us have run into this situation, too. It’s the upset customer, or it’s the customer trying to get a freebie, or it’s the customer just outright telling falsehoods to get what they want.

Keep in mind that you only have control over half of conversations with customers. You can control what you say, how you say it, and what action you take; but you cannot control the customer. If you’ve done all you can do, sometimes feel good about what you’ve done even if the customer doesn’t seem to feel good about the outcome.

You can only control what you can control. Don’t dwell on what you can’t control.

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies.

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