focus

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


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. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

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

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus…and Golf – 5/14/19

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In Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in your life at that moment. Shut out all thoughts other than picking out a target and taking dead aim at it. This is a good way to calm a case of nerves.

I love this quote for so many reasons. First, the quote relates to life and customer service. When we’re interacting with that customer during that 1-on-1 moment of truth, we need to view that customer in that situation as the most important thing in our life at that moment. To convey we are engaged and we care, we need to truly believe that that other individual and their situation are important. Even if – in the grand scheme of things – it is not THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD to you, at that moment, you need to focus on it AS IF IT WAS the most important thing.

The next aspect of this phrase that I love is that you are shutting out all other thoughts. We might think we can serve a customer the best while we’re simultaneously looking at a computer or thinking about a project we have due later on, but the reality is that the brain works best and we communicate best with others when we are focused exclusively on that individual.

Finally, he sums up by saying that this is a good way to calm a case of nerves. One thing that people don’t realize is that there is a greater sense of calm if we are in-the-moment than there is if we’re thinking about tomorrow. You’re more likely to be stressed if you’re thinking about 12 other things you have to do or what might happen next or all the other stimulations that are in the environment.

If we only focus on the now, there is less to distract and less to disturb the calm.

The next time you’re on the phone or face-to-face with another individual, view that interaction as the most important thing at that moment. Treat them that way, and watch the communications flow better, the conversations end more quickly, and your emotions stay calmer.

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

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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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How to Create Focus and Direction – 10/22/13 TOW

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Prior to co-founding CSS, I was a management consultant for about ten years. At my previous consulting firm, they asked me to develop and deliver training for new employees on Consulting Skills and Professionalism. It was an honor to be asked and a fun course to teach.

In looking through some of the materials from that training recently, I came across a module that addressed keeping Focus and Direction, and the tips from that training should resonate for those in customer service as well.

Oftentimes as a consultant, especially if you’re inquisitive and creative, you can create a lot of ideas, want to make many improvements, and look to promote change for the better. Those attributes and actions can also be applied to many who have a customer service role or orientation. The problem lies in the fact that all that creativity and focus on continuous improvement can create TOO MUCH WORK!

What we promoted in the training years ago to create Focus and Direction were three key questions:

  • Who’s the customer?
  • What’s the need?
  • What’s the priority?

 
The concept was that your customers and their needs should set a focus; their priorities (or if certain customers or needs are bigger priorities) should help to sort out our priorities. The direction we should go should be greatly impacted by the direction our customers desire.

So the next time you have too many items on your “To Do” list for the day, look at those items in light of these three questions.

Create a Focus and Direction for yourself by doing those things that address key needs of key customers.