improvement

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Put Yourself at the Controls of Change – 4/28/20

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

You have probably heard about manufacturing plants and restaurants who are pivoting during these challenging times and starting to make hand sanitizers, masks, and gowns.  They are being forced to change, and they’re trying to find the opportunities among the obstacles that surround them.

Sometimes we, too, as individuals in our work life are being forced to change – as many of us are today.  But there is some change that we can control.

What do you want to change?  What do you need to change?

Maybe some of it is attitudinal.  For those of us who are lucky to have a boss that’s encouraging and motivating, maybe not having that boss around requires us to be more self-motivated. Set your own daily goals.  Pat yourself on the back when you reach those goals.  Be the great encourager…to yourself.

Maybe the improvement needed is more of a technical nature.  We should want to improve our computer skills since we’ll be using those so much more.  Can we become expert at using the video conferencing systems and tools?  Can we become more proficient at toggling between different functions on our computer for information, since we’re relying less and less on paper?

The improvement area could be communication skills, particularly if having that face-to-face interaction and all the body language and expressions are so much less available for emphasizing our points.  You may want to improve your business writing skills – since you’re communicating more often via messaging to others.  Maybe you need to improve your concentration skills since it’s easier to get distracted when you’re in a video conference with 10 people than if you’re in a face-to-face meeting in the same conference room.

Finally, we can look for improvement areas in how we do our work.  Improving might mean that we’re more organized in our work since we can’t simply walk to the person in the next cubicle to talk about a project or chit chat with our office colleague about something.  Those random or nearby encounters are less likely, so we have to be a bit more intentional about planning when to contact others.

Change is difficult – particularly when it’s thrust upon you.  But if you can identify your own change – your own improvement path – you can give yourself some control.

Create the change that will help you improve.

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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

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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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