expectation

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

Using I, We, or You in Customer Service - 9/1/20


It’s amazing how many conversations can go horribly wrong or incredibly right, not because of the use of a 4-letter word, but simply because of the use of a 1, 2, or 3-letter word – I, We, You. The incorrect use of I, We, You in conversations causes problems more Read more

Get Your Guru On - 8/25/20


You may have heard of management gurus - these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior. And so Read more

Whether You Believe You Can Do a Thing or Not, You Are Right - 8/18/20


This is a famous Henry Ford quote, and the quote is all about self-belief, all about confidence. We’ve often spoken about the need to be confident and how to gain confidence, because that confidence - or the lack thereof - is imparted on the customer. But how does a customer tell Read more

Grind it out Today for a Better Tomorrow - 8/11/20


It’s been said that You Learn Perseverance by Persevering.  You are becoming mentally tougher right now.  The pain and the difficulties and the change today are making you stronger for dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re all having to be more flexible.  We are all facing less consistency, less Read more

Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19


What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect. No Communication = No Connection If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we Read more

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, 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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