expectation

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


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 Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

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

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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