expectation

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

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


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 Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

The 4 S’s of the Customer Experience – 10/13/15 TOW

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


I mentioned in a previous TOW years ago about the 4 S’s of Expectation Management – Key guiding principles to effectively set and manage customer expectations – Simple, Specific, Supporting Documentation, and Summarizing.

But there is another set of 4 S’s – and these are all about the Customer Experience. We worked with a government client last year that had significant customer issues. The customers didn’t – in general – like having to deal with a regulatory and enforcement body, but they really didn’t like it when the regulations were surrounded by a poor customer experience.

So through research including a multitude of customer focus groups, we narrowed down the customers’ preferences for their experience into four guiding principles – The 4 S’s of the Customer Experience:

  • Staffing – Ensure that your staffing mirrors the Customer Volume – by time-of-day, day-of-week, season, etc. You could have the best people, processes, and systems in place, but if you don’t have the staffing levels to handle the volume, the experience will suffer.
  • Solving Issues – When issues and complaints arise, be collaborative across the company’s silos to resolve issues. Be as timely as possible, managing customer expectations when needed. Ensure staff OWN the issue – don’t push the responsibility of researching or fixing issues to the customer, particularly when the problems were caused between staff or departments.
  • Statusing – This one may not have been top-of-mind, but it’s VERY important when service and issue resolution are not immediate. When those fixes take time, be transparent with the information and the issue-resolution process. The more customers understand and see what’s going on to rectify issues or address needs, the more appreciative and understanding they’ll be of the effort. Offer statuses of where their issue/need is in the process, ensuring that the current status is clear, specific, and easily-accessed by the customer. The better they can find and understand the status, the less likely they are to contact you for updates.
  • Simplifying (the Catch-all) – Whether it’s your terminology or systems, make it easy for the customer to do business with you. Avoid the confusion and complexity that lead to long discussions with staff and extra work for your business. When needed, have a single point of contact so they can get to the right person the first time – saving the customer and your company time. Finally, at every communication, be clear on next steps and timeframes.

 
To deliver a great experience, incorporate the 4 S’s.

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Avoid the Overpromise – 9/15/15 TOW

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Bill called tech support to ask about an issue with one of the company websites. After he gave the representative a brief description of the issue, the representative immediately and enthusiastically said “I can DEFINITELY help you with that!” After ten minutes on the phone, it became obvious that the representative couldn’t help and that his statement was merely a script.

The government employee received the building design plans from the architect and told him that the plans would be reviewed in 20 days. It was the first of the month, so the architect thought the plans would be reviewed by the 21st. On the 22nd, having heard nothing about the status of the plan review, the architect called the reviewer.

“No, they’re not ready,” said the reviewer. “I told you 20 days. It took us a couple days of administrative work to get these into review, then it’s 20 business days for review. Then it will take about 2-3 days to get the comments into the system for you to review and respond. So you should be able to review comments by the 5th of next month.”

These are two real-life examples of a company overpromising and a customer being upset with the result. In the website scenario, the employee conveyed hope – which can be good – but he made it sound so definitive that he set unrealistic expectations based on a brief understanding of the issue before knowing the true cause of the problem.

In the second case, the overpromise was due to communication issues. The statement “20 days” – while it seems straightforward – can mean two different things to two different people. There was no clarification of what that meant. If the employee said “the 5th of next month” from the start, there would have been no risk of overpromise.

When working with customers, convey hope if you think you can help, but temper it with a dose of realism. And when setting expectations for timeframes, be clear on what will happen and by when.

Don’t create the irate customer. Avoid the Overpromise.

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Be Boring but Better – Become Predictable – 8/18/15 TOW

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I was recently watching reruns of on old sitcom where a woman was attracted to a man she was dating – in part – because he was so unpredictable. What was he going to say next? What was the next exciting thing he’d come up with for date night?!

But excitement in customer service is not always the best goal, especially if that excitement is a result of something unpredictable happening.

I’ve facilitated enough customer focus groups and read enough customer comments to know one thing about customer service – sometimes being boring is vital to customer service, and what’s more boring (but good!) than being predictable?

Remember that 40% of customer dissatisfaction is because the customer didn’t receive what they expected – the company overpromised or didn’t even do the bare minimum of what the customer expected. So you can eliminate the cause of a lot of dissatisfaction by doing what’s expected. Consider these boring-but-better predictable actions to boost your customer service:

  • Instead of providing a wide window of time for a callback or site visit, give a narrow arrival window to set the expectation; then meet that expectation.
  • ALWAYS respond to e-mails sent directly to you, even if all you say is “Thanks for the e-mail; I’ll review and reply back by X date – Please let me know if you need it sooner.” Become responsively predictable!
  • Know what the company does to set expectations via letters, e-mails, marketing programs, sales offers, and web pages. Often companies note who will do what, in what timeframe, and in what way. To be predictable, we have to know what the customer expects based on these company proclamations.
  • Document what you tell customers you’ll do and by when (do so on paper, in a follow-up e-mail, etc.); then do what you stated you’d do.
  • If there are personal or corporate hours of operations, be clear on what they are so the customer knows your availability.
  • Find a best practice process, and adhere to it; standard processes offer more predictable outcomes and timeframes than “everybody doing it their own way.”

 
Find ways to make your reality match the customer’s expectations.

Make “boring” a competitive advantage – become predictable with your customer service.

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