government

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

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

How Good Are You When Things Go Bad? – 8/9/16

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


The more issues that your organization has to address, the more customer service matters. With most of the survey research that CSS performs for clients, we conduct additional correlation analyses to identify which aspects of the customer experience or relationship with the business tend to have the greatest impact on loyalty, willingness to recommend, or overall customer satisfaction.

With some of our clients – those that by the nature of their business have lots of difficult customer situations – there are interesting attributes that drive overall satisfaction. For one event-based client, whether the customer had traffic issues AFTER the event had a strong impact on overall customer satisfaction. In other words, if that last impression was bad, the overall event satisfaction went down; if the exiting process was quick/easy, the overall satisfaction was much higher.

Similarly, our surveys for a local government code enforcement agency continually note that when issues are resolved quickly/fairly and staff listen well to customers, overall satisfaction is much higher. When issue handling is poor, overall satisfaction is poor.

Oftentimes we think customer satisfaction is driven by the “WOW” or the exceptional experience, but with many industries overall customer satisfaction is determined by what transpires when things go bad.

To make sure you’re “good” when things go bad, here are quick summaries of comments from customers about what they want in an issue resolution experience:

  • Listen to and understand my perspective
  • Don’t rush me
  • Apologize
  • Own the resolution – even if you didn’t cause the problem
  • Provide direction – Where do I need to go? What do I need to do?
  • Respond quickly to my inquiries
  • Keep me up-to-date
  • Include me in decision-making, preferably with options
  • Resolve issues fairly.

Simple tips, but they are tips direct from customers that directly impact their overall satisfaction. Sometimes it is easy to deliver good customer service when things go well.

Make sure you’re good when things go bad.

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It’s About Leadership and Appreciation – 7/5/16 TOW

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CSS does a lot of work with local government, education, and healthcare organizations. They all have a great deal in common. They typically have tons of customer interactions using various methods – phone, in-person, e-mail, etc. They have many policies, procedures, regulations, and laws to which they must adhere. They’re typically mid-to-large sized organizations, and creating an engaged and aligned workforce can be a challenge.

We’re working with one client in particular on culture change, and in a recent survey of staff, we asked them to describe their desired culture and what’s needed to create it. Two themes came up repeatedly in response to the “What’s needed” question – Leadership and Appreciation.

Leadership. Many staff said that the culture needs to start with leadership. Managers need to model the organizational values and customer service standards. Executives need to treat the staff like they expect staff to treat the customers.

Appreciation. In these types of organizations, legal, political, and financial barriers limit the amounts and types of financial compensation, incentives, and rewards that can be provided to employees. So in this survey, staff focused on Appreciation. They wanted to be recognized for good work and behaviors that align to the organizational values. They liked some of the initiatives that the organization had already put in place that enable staff to recognize each other. They wanted to feel valued, and that sense of being valued is in part driven by the Appreciation of their attitudes, skills, knowledge, and quality work.

An engaged workforce – having employees truly passionate about the company, its customers, and their role in the success – is not easy to create, but it can be done.

And it starts with a concerted effort to address two themes.

Start with Leadership and Appreciation.

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Set Time Aside – 4/19/16 TOW

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Many of our clients struggle when changing organizational culture, impacting morale and organizational success, or getting staff to focus on what’s most important. Great ideas are created, but they often don’t become a sustained reality.

The solutions to this issue with real change not occurring or not sustaining often boil down to one key point: You have to set time aside.

Example #1 (Embedding in Education) – A CSS education client is having difficulty embedding some of its Core Values into its culture. They are communicated periodically, activities are developed for leaders to use with staff, but the culture change is slow and inconsistent. One solution that they are now undertaking involves making these Core Values a standing Agenda item for every meeting. At least 5 minutes of every meeting are set aside for some action, story, recognition, reinforcement, or activity that addresses Core Values. Best case, that Core Value agenda item aligns to the meeting goal, but in any case the values are embedded into their existing meeting structures.

Example #2 (Getting Buy-in in Government) – A local government client of ours is trying to accomplish two key goals concurrently: Raise performance and improve morale. One of the big morale issues is that front-line staff felt that decisions were made by a few leaders with no input from the staff charged with implementation. Putting the plans in place was invariably done last minute, resulted in unforeseen issues, created NO staff buy-in, and put stress on staff. The solution? Ongoing Employee Roundtables are being created; leadership is setting time aside on a recurring basis to get staff input and ideas early on when new products, policies, and processes are being considered. This creates buy-in, makes for better ideation, reduces staff stress, and decreases backend fire-fighting post-implementation.

Example #3 (Reviewing Sports Research) – We have worked with a sports client to create a Voice of the Fan research program for its events at multiple venues, but some venues (typically lower performing ones) aren’t using the data as completely as they could and aren’t participating in the post-survey debrief calls. The solution? The client now requires all venues to set aside time for the debrief calls, and the corporate staff participates on the calls. The venue staff are now ending these calls excited by what they learned, knowing how to best use the results, and aware of the retention and revenue growth opportunities available.

So what are your ongoing organizational challenges? Maybe the challenges are not being effectively addressed because time is not being consistently devoted to the topic.

Set Time Aside.

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