government

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything – 8/27/19

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

We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and universities, most of those organizations of higher education also have the mindset that they have to help their students grow, mature, develop over their time in school. It’s important to put the responsibility and the resulting accountability on the student so that they take ownership over the action, and they can do it on their own in the future. By helping them to develop some independence, in the long run it is actually saving time for the university personnel as well.

Think about using this approach with your customers, particularly if you deal with repeat customers. These might be land designers who have to submit multiple plans to a local government to develop some property. These might be season ticket holders for a professional sports organization who need to learn how to manage their tickets on their own. This could be patients in a hospital who need to be able to understand their discharge instructions and provide good self-care after they’ve left the facility.

So there is a line of demarcation. You want to have the attitude and the willingness to do ANYTHING for the customer, but it’s rarely the best long-term approach to do EVERYTHING for the customer.

Think about those things that they are well-equipped to do or that they’re going to need to do multiple times in the future. Think about how independent they want to be or need to be. Think about their desire to easily do something and to have the comfort and confidence to be able to take that action.

When you’re considering your approach to customer service, do anything, but not everything.

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Take Away Their Worry – 8/7/18

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


One summer, Janet was given a new chore. She had to take out the trash and recycle bins to the street every Tuesday night so that they could be picked up Wednesday morning. She would go out around 7 or 8 o’clock at night, take the bins out, and come back inside. As summer was about to end, it began getting dark earlier, so Janet began putting the bins out earlier.

Janet was worrying about things. She kept hearing noises and didn’t know what they were, so she decided to at least avoid the darkness when putting out the bins. Her dad asked why she kept going out earlier, and when she explained, he said that the noises were probably some small animals, and she shouldn’t be afraid.

The next week she went out a little later – when it was a little bit darker – and she heard some noises and ran back inside. Her dad asked what was wrong, and when she explained about the noises again, he got out his flashlight, and they walked out together. They heard a noise, he pointed the flashlight in that direction, and it was a squirrel. They walked a few feet and heard another noise, and the flashlight revealed a bunny on some leaves. It was a windy day, and after another noise, the light showed a small branch that had fallen.

What the dad had said a week earlier had been proven true. Janet continued her chore, and she did so at night – and she usually went out with a flashlight.

For our customers, similar to Janet, sometimes things are scary. It could be that patient’s unexpected visit to an urgent care, or possibly that a sports fan was about to make a big payment on season tickets. Maybe that resident was not used to dealing with the government on the tax issue.

If we can tell them what they’re going to experience, it can make them less worried. Better yet, it we can SHOW THEM what’s going to happen – being that flashlight – noting all the steps they could be experiencing through the process, they become even more comfortable.

When you are interacting with a customer on something that may create worry or anxiety, do what Janet’s dad did for her. Patiently describe what the experience will be like; shine the light on the path they’ll be going down to bring down their emotions.

Take away their worry.

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Get Back in the Good Graces – 12/12/17

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


What is “Service Recovery?” I was asked this in a meeting recently when I was describing the approach to take with certain clients. I know it’s a term used a lot but not defined a lot, so let’s define it.

I prefer the literal interpretation – you are recovering from an issue. The way you’re recovering is through customer service. The issue may be a bad experience at your sports event. It may be a rude inspector by your government agency. Maybe it was an excessive wait by the healthcare provider.

Regardless of the issue, the point is that you’re currently “behind the 8-ball” in the eyes of your customer, and you need to recover. You need to get back up, get back in the good graces of the guest who’s upset.

You can avoid the recovery, but you risk still being a scourge in the eyes of the customer. You can recover WITHOUT customer service. That means fixing a product or replacing a part – without a process or personality surrounding that replacement that even remotely conveys “I care” and “I apologize.”

But this is the 21st century. People expect the personalization with the product replacement. They expect the smooth process with the replacement part.

Especially in a service industry, how do you fix a bad experience? How do you fix the interaction with the rude inspector? How do you fix a wait at the hospital?

In short, you can’t. You can’t go back and change what they felt or experienced. You can only move forward and hope they give you a chance in a future encounter. So, you have to create an opportunity for a future encounter with something that smooths over the experience of the past.

That “something” is customer service. Your attitude. Your empathy. Your sincerity. Your response. Your speed. Your action – they all deal with the person wronged in a way that’s right.

When you’re speaking of “Service Recovery,” remember that you’re speaking of what needs to be done to get that upset customer open to becoming a returning customer. And it’s not just about your replacement product. It’s about how you repair the image that person has of your organization.

Deal with the person wronged in a way that’s right.

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