experience

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong – 3/30/21

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

Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  That item was backordered.  The problem is that you ordered it online.  If you would have placed your order over the phone, we would have been able to tell you that the color you selected wasn’t available.”  While that response may have been technically correct, it made for a poor experience.

The small business owner was talking with a customer service representative at his internet service provider, and the customer told the employee that he had a question about his account.  There was silence…for 1 minute…for 2 minutes….“Are you still there?” asked the customer.  “Oh yes,” responded the representative.  “It’s just taking a while to get into the system; it’s really slow today.”  What the representative stated was technically correct, but the unexpected silence made it a poor experience.

The Robinson family had just been seated at the restaurant, and they began to look over their menus.  As they were chatting, someone said “What would you like to drink?”  A server had walked up, those were the first words out of his mouth, and the tone was flat as a pancake, but it was a question he needed to ask.  He could have greeted the family, apologized for interrupting, stated his name, smiled, and spoken with an upbeat voice.  What he did was technically correct (he asked the question he was supposed to ask), but it was a poor experience.

We can ask questions of the customer, share our knowledge with the customer, and provide facts to the customer.  But sometimes the right answer or the accurate facts are delivered in the wrong way – leading to a bad experience despite the good information.

When the answer is right, make sure that the service is right, too.

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Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential concerns, and overall experiences.  Needless to say, we’ve had a ton of lessons learned that we’re sharing with you today.

Find the Customer’s Sweet Spot

Every event is going to have precautionary measures – protocols to utilize in order to keep staff and fans comfortable and safe.  Realize that you are striving to provide a great fan experience, but part of that great experience involves the fans being comfortable enough to have a good time.  So before events, conduct research with fans so you have a sense for what are the most important characteristics or potential protocols that you could put in place, from the fan’s perspective.  Understand what their expectations are and their needs are to have the comfort and confidence to have a great experience.  Before trying to do too much or too little from a sanitization perspective, make sure you have an understanding of those key perception drivers from the fan’s perspective so you have a better chance of hitting their sweet spot for protocols.

Educate New AND Old Customers

Most sports organizations, if they do any pre-event education with fans, tend to tailor those communications to the first-time fans.  This is being done for obvious reasons – first-time fans are the least experienced in how to navigate the fan journey and how to do their part to have the best experience possible.  But in this COVID world, keep in mind that even long-term fans and season ticket holders have never experienced an event of any kind – particularly a major sports event – within a COVID environment.

Make sure that the educational path you take is geared toward these two distinct groups – the first-time fans and the long-term fans about to have their first COVID event experience.  Remember in these times, in order for the customer to be comfortable and confident, you need to become an educator to the fans of what the experience will be like and what THEIR part is in helping to create that safe environment.

Post-event: Research, Refine, Reinforce

Finally, we’re going to discuss post-event activities from 3 perspectives:  Post-event Research, Refinement of plans, and Reinforcement.

First, make sure that you’re conducting Post-event Research on the fan experiences and future expectations.  You want to know what you did great so you can recognize staff. You want to know what was most appreciated by fans, so you can replicate that action.  And you want to know what needs to most be improved upon, because just like the COVID findings and recommendations seem to change every day or every week, the approach for events is going to slightly change every day or every week.

Also make sure that you understand their future expectations.  Identify whether their likelihood to return will go up or down based on whether the number of protocols go up or down.  Gauge their likelihood to return and their likelihood to bring more people to the next event.  Gauge their likelihood to be a repeat COVID Era customer.

Refinement relates to operations and communications.  Based on the feedback from the fans, make those adjustments in your operations.  If you were successful enough to find the sweet spot in your protocols, then you’re just tweaking your operations event-to-event.  In terms of communications, if you do a good job proactively engaging and educating fans and asking how they want to be communicated with, if you do a great job after the fact in your post-event research of asking them what communications were most useful, most used, and most effective, then refine your communication strategy with fans so that you can – again – continuously improve.

Reinforcement relates to changing perceptions.  Fans have the experience that they have, and down the road when they’re making their decisions about recommending your event to others, coming back themselves, spending more money with you, the memories that they have and the perceptions they have days weeks and months down the road are going to help them make those decisions.  You can impact those down-the-road perceptions.  Send them communications about their experience, reinforcing what a great experience that they had, what success that the event had in mitigating negative outcomes from a health perspective, sharing visuals of people having a great time, and highlighting fan comments from post-event surveys about how much they enjoyed their experience and how much the protocols oftentimes enhanced that overall experience.

Take these lessons learned that we’ve gleaned from our client work, and make sure that your COVID Era sporting events deliver a great experience your fans as well.


Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

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 not only are not top-of-mind, but we’re not even “bottom-of-mind.” We are not in the mind. They don’t think of us, they don’t consider us because the relationship has gone stale.

Now caring is in the eye of the beholder. How one person defines whether they are cared for by the other may differ from individual to individual. But if we put things in the context of the customer relationship, there are some more consistent realities. Communicating with the customer just to sell isn’t relationship-building. A lack of communication isn’t relationship-building.

What Caring for the Customer Requires

Caring requires that people feel like they’re viewed as an individual – that we value them. It requires that we usually listen more than talk. It means that we try to understand their issues, needs, and goals, and – if they want more than the listening ear – we address those issues, needs, and goals.

So much of what I just described suggests that we can – and MUST – improve customer relations through research, and CSS is conducting a great deal of research in this COVID-19 environment because our clients understand this truth.

Customer research done correctly involves a company asking a customer a question. It involves the company seeking information from the customer, ultimately for the customer. Sometimes, well-designed research instruments convey caring for the customer and valuing of the customer just by how the tools are worded and what questions are asked.

Design with the Customer in Mind

What do you need to know about the customer to help them? What do you need to learn about them to best serve them? How do you identify their priorities, their issues, their concerns, their perceptions, their preferences? And how do you construct these questions in such a way that you convey that you care? We’re talking about research, and we’re not necessarily saying it’s purely web-based surveys. This can include one-on-one interviews, phone follow-up from account representatives, or check-in calls from staff. This could include informal e-mail requests, or it could include facilitated ZOOM focus groups.

Whatever it is, do enough of it to know enough about as many of your customers as possible to help them. If you professionally design with the conveying that you care in mind, you will improve customer relations.