improvement

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

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

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

Get to Know Yourself Better – 1/30/18

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


Confidence in your ability to deliver customer service is exceptionally important. I often quote Vince Lombardi who said “Confidence is contagious, and so is lack of confidence. And the customer can recognize both.”

Confidence is important to you and to the customer. It lets the customer know whether they can trust and believe you, or not. Should they follow what you say, or should they “answer shop?” Should they accept your explanation, or should they ask you 15 follow-up questions? Much of their response (and whether they end up wasting your time or the time of your co-workers) is based on your confidence.

So, what creates confidence?

Judith Bardwick (management consultant, psychiatrist, author) once said: Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting yourself – your strengths and your limitations – in contrast to depending on affirmation from others.

Starting with the last point first, don’t seek affirmation from others in order to drive your confidence. If you receive the compliments, then great! That’s a bonus. But don’t rely on someone else to do something for you in order for you to create a positive self-image.

Bardwick believes that being confident outwardly is based on your inward knowledge. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses (or “limitations”)? Do you accept those? When I say “accept,” I’m not saying that you should refuse to improve, but at least be honest that that’s who you are at that specific moment.

Do this exercise to build your confidence in front of customers. Simply take out a sheet of paper, and write down 5-10 of your strengths that relate to customer service such communications, relationship-building, organizational skills, and other characteristics of people great at customer service. Then, write down 5-10 areas that are shortcomings or at least not your core strengths.

Then review the list. Tell yourself “yes, this is me at this moment. I am REALLY good at these 5-10. These other points are areas where I’m not great and may need to improve in the future.”

That knowledge and acceptance will help you to be more conscious of what to leverage when serving others (your strengths), and what situations to avoid or seek support in (your limitations).

Get to know yourself better to serve your customer more confidently.

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Swing a Little Harder – 12/5/17

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


It’s a great golf analogy. The harder you swing, the more your swing faults are magnified. If you usually hit the ball slightly to the right, when you swing harder, you may start hitting WAY right. Then why swing harder, you ask?

The reason you swing harder is to test your swing at the practice range BEFORE you get on the course. You want to get a better sense of the issues, and then you can improve.

You can do the same thing in the world of customer service. You may be very effective at dealing with those 90%-95% of customers that walk through the door or that call you on the phone. You may be great in dealing with those complaints that you hear every day. It may be easy to engage that person who is smiling as they walk into your facility. You might find it a pleasant challenge to deal with that difficult e-mail the comes from a co-worker.

But if you want to understand the holes in your own personal approach to customer service, if you want to understand how to get better in how you engage co-workers and your clients, if you want to get better at those most challenging 5-10% of interactions, then swing harder. Here are three examples of how to swing harder in practice.

First, figure out how you could possibly resolve some customer complaints in half the time.

Second, ask a co-worker to come up with five scenarios dealing with product or service issues that are very unusual or complex. Then role-play those issues.

Third, use your company’s FAQ list, and identify three different scenarios that are not covered by the FAQs. Then identify specifically what you need to know about your people, your products, your processes, and your policies to address those scenarios.

If you want to get great at customer service, challenge yourself to address situations you rarely have to deal with so that – when they arrive – you’re more comfortable and more confident.

Swing a Little Harder.

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What’s Your Part? – 11/29/16

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


Better cultures lead to better service. There have been many studies and corporate examples over the years that convey a clear message. If you want to deliver a high level of customer service, you need a culture of great customer service.

You need a culture of respect – one of courtesy and follow-through. You need a culture where responsiveness to others is valued. You need a culture where the tools of hiring and training and rewarding and accountability all have a component of service to them.

To deliver great service, the culture needs to be one of service.

So what’s your part?

Without being melodramatic, your part is your heart. If your heart is not engaged in what the company is all about, you’re going to have a difficult time delivering the kind of service they want delivered. If your values don’t align with the organization’s values, or if what you see as important in how people should treat others is not seen as important in the organization, it will be difficult for you to play your part.

To play your part, think about and clearly understand what you value in life. Make sure it aligns to your organization’s values. Think about how much respect and responsiveness, how much courtesy and follow-through, how much helping the other person – being selfless – are important to you.

If you truly understand what’s important to you, and the company is aligned with those values, then pour your heart into the organization’s culture. Get engaged with the corporate initiatives that enable you to live your personal values in your workplace. Be one of the reasons why your organization’s culture is great.

Do your part with your heart.

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