expectation

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


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 Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

Love is never having to say you’re sorry – 11/6/18

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

Love Story – great movie. Alli McGraw. Ryan O’Neal. And a surprisingly poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but I digress. The most famous line from the movie is “Love is never having to say you’re sorry…”

Unfortunately, great customer service isn’t about love, per se. Many customers want to hear “I’m sorry” before they can settle down, move on, and forgive/forget.

So how do you say I’m sorry?

The Terrible Transfer – Let’s say that you answer the phone, and the customer immediately tells you they’ve already been transferred 4 times. Consider saying “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s not how we like to do things around here.” Then do the following; either: (A) Make sure you personally take care of the need, (B) Make a “warm” transfer once you identify the employee who can help and that they’re available, or (C) Offer to take their contact information and call them back with the answer.

The Technology Troubles – Let’s say that a customer is trying to understand how to use some technology platform your company provides or navigate your website, and they’re having issues. Consider saying: “I apologize for the difficulties in getting the system working.” You could then offer to walk them through the process on the phone, staying on the line until it works; you could offer to visit them to educate them on the process; you could also provide documentation on the key steps to getting their need addressed.

The Protracted Process – Maybe it’s a situation where a process is taking way too long (whether they want to get an application approved, get a meeting scheduled, get a return or request addressed). You could state: “Sorry that the process it taking longer than anticipated. I’ll personally make sure we get this addressed quickly.” After you’ve received details on the situation, take 2 approaches. First, immediately work on the issue and/or bring in someone to get the need addressed. Second, communicate actions to the customer while the process is in place (to manage expectations and keep them in-the-loop) and when the process is completed (to ensure they know the process was done and to confirm satisfaction).

Unfortunately, great customer service DOES MEAN that sometimes you have to say you’re sorry.

Handle apologies with aplomb.

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Do Nothing for the Customer, and Make Them Happy – 6/26/18

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Thomas did nothing for me, and I was impressed. I was walking down the hall at my office a couple weeks back, and Thomas, the maintenance manager, stopped me. Apparently, the people in the office next door were suffering from undo heat in the middle of summer, and I had two cooling vents in my office, one of which was unused. The temperature in my office was absolutely fine, as Thomas had made an adjustment for me a couple years ago.

Thomas asked “Are you going to be in the office at 6 AM tomorrow?”

“No,” I said. Thomas said that he would be in my office at 6 o’clock to switch one of the vents over to the hotter office, and he just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t inconvenience me if he was there from 6 AM to 6:30 AM.

When I walked into my office the next morning, everything felt the same. Virtually everything looked the same except there was a tiny bit of white dust on my desk from the ceiling tiles. Thomas obviously had been in my office, he had left, and according to the people in the office next to me, their office was much cooler because of his work.

Technically, Thomas did not do anything specifically for me. He did it for someone else, but I left impressed. He asked my permission before entering my office. He came in at an exceptionally early time in order to avoid inconveniencing me. He did work that I’m sure was physical and somewhat messy, and yet he left my office looking the same as when he entered.

Sometimes we can impress our customers without doing anything specifically for them.

Consider if you do a great job communicating that certain technology is going to be down for maintenance, and since the customer knows that, they avoid those times and never experience the downtime.

Consider situations where an employee sees you waiting or senses you have a need, and they proactively engage you and let you know what they’re doing and why they might be a couple minutes before they can serve you. Essentially the employee is doing work for others, but you appreciate their consideration of you and your time.

You don’t always need to WOW the customer. Just proactively communicate expectations.

Do nothing for a customer, and make them happy.

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About Adults Behaving Badly and Common Sense – 3/13/18

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I was conducting focus groups at a client site that was known for poor customer service. They were trying to change their culture and turn around their customer experience, but they first wanted to get a sense of the current state of things. This particular focus group had many long-term employees, some of which earned the department’s bad reputation for customer service.

As I probed to get their philosophies and approaches to customer service, I was getting a lot of “blame the customer” talk. To direct a question back to the employee’s responsibility in dealing with difficult customer situations, I asked them specifically what they do when they’re dealing with the complaining customer.

The first response I got was “Be an adult.” I asked the person to clarify, and their response was “Just be an adult. People respect it when you’re an adult.”

While this may be true in general, organizations cannot make the assumption that everybody’s definition of “adult” behavior will result in a well-handled customer complaint. This reminds me of the many times I’ve heard the statement that “customer service is just common sense.”

The problem with those statements is that we’ve all seen adults behaving badly. If you’ve ever been on Twitter or Facebook or just walked down the street for that matter, you’ve seen adults who are not a being respectful, considerate, humble, helpful, or effective in how they communicate with others.

And as much as customer service might be common sense, you and I know that there are plenty of people without common sense. Is it common sense to argue with an irate customer? Is it common sense to stare at your smart phone when the customer is waiting for you? Is it common sense to talk to a co-worker about the party last weekend the whole time that you’re ringing up the customer at the register?

Again, being an adult and having common sense would be good general philosophies for customer service, but not everybody delivering customer service has the same definition of those terms.

If we want everybody on the same page delivering the same great experience, we need a common definition of what we expect. We need to have conversations about what constitutes a good customer experience. We need to understand that to consistently serve the customer requires we specifically and clearly paint the picture of great customer service.

Be clear on what is truly a great customer experience.

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