issue resolution

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

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

You Do Know Jack – 6/4/19

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


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 and not intended to convey indifference, the customer could walk away feeling negatively. Here are some of those actions to be wary of when Jack’s engaged with a customer…

Jack knows the answer to the question, so Jack interjects while the customer’s talking….or…maybe Jack quickly ends the conversation after providing an answer (but before he confirmed they got their need met)….or…Jack might talk exceptionally fast to the customer. These could all be innocent actions, but they could all convey that Jack’s impatient. Jack’s rushing the customer. Jack’s trying to get to the next call or move this customer along.

When the customer makes a complaint, Jack makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that he is not the one responsible. He knows that others were involved with that issue, and he was NOT part of the situation. These may all be facts, but what they do is they focus the conversation on who’s to blame and the fact that Jack’s DEFINITELY NOT to blame. In the end, the customer is usually complaining because they have an issue and they want a solution. Jack’s moved the focus to one of absolving himself of responsibility instead of focusing on the customer and their solution.

Finally, Jack gets a request through e-mail or social media, via the website or the phone. It’s obvious this is a request that another area of the organization handles. So, Jack tells the customer that they will need to call the other department or go to the website to find the answer. What Jack’s suggesting is accurate, but it’s not entirely helpful. The customer will think Jack cares more about getting back to “his work” than connecting the customer to the right person or getting to the specific answer.

Do you know Jack? If so, I’m sorry. Overcome the perception that you’re indifferent by not being like Jack.

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

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


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 co-workers are not perfect, and our solutions to customer issues are rarely perfect.

The customer wants you to fix their issue or address their need, and often they are telling you HOW you should fix that issue or address that need. Frequently, their solutions won’t work. You can’t always waive a policy, change a process, or do something in 5 minutes that takes 5 days. You have to say No.

But there are ways to say No that are giving the right kind of No. Here are 3 quick steps to consider:

Convey Why the No: Before you say No to their solution, make sure they understand WHY their idea won’t work. In a professional way, explain the rationale so they understand it’s not a matter of you being obstinate. There’s an objectivity to your response.

Link Your Solution to Their Goal: They may suggest a certain process, but what is their goal? They may want something done, but what is their goal? They may say they want it in 5 minutes, but what is their goal? Their goal may be having a great event, getting a remedy before they hold a meeting, having a working product, getting financing for a house, or feeling better. If you can understand their desired outcome and get them to think about the goal instead of the solution, then you can link your solution to their goal.

Offer the Options: Finally, suggest alternatives that achieve their goal. Particularly if you can offer more than one solution, it gives them some control over deciding the next step. Even if there’s only one solution, by attaching it to their goal, they’re envisioning the eventual success.

Taking this approach will keep the temperature of the conversation low, put you in control, and lead to more productive and positive conversations.

Give the right kind of “No” response.

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Know the Customer’s Value Proposition – 2/12/19

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


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a financial advisor to arrange a meeting with a customer, the teller notes how his co-worker has helped many other customers with a similar need. When the pro sports sales representative hands off a new account to their service specialist, he notes how responsive the service rep is to his clients.

While these are all great examples on how to build up a co-worker in the mind of a customer, it’s even more important at times to have that same positive talk about the customer themselves.

Customers want to feel valued, like their purchase decisions and their dollars are important to the organization. Even more than that, they want to feel like they themselves are important to you and your company. You obviously can do that by providing great customer service. You can also do that by finding ways to tell them how much you value them. Everything I’m about to suggest obviously needs to be done with sincerity, so don’t say it if you don’t believe it:

  • Let the customer know when they’ve asked a great question.
  • Tell them when you agree with the option they selected.
  • Convey appreciation for bringing an issue to your attention so that other customers won’t have to face the same issue.
  • Thank them for coming all the way into your office to chat with you.
  • Thank them for their time and their patience.
  • Ask them for their ideas and their guidance, and then give them credit when you think one of those great ideas will work.
  • When they fill out the paperwork correctly, let them know they did a great job.
  • When they give you thorough answers, let them know you appreciate all the detailed information.
  • When they answer your series of questions to give you the information you need to address their need, thank them for all the responses.

 

Your customers are part of the service process. Their effective and complete participation is valuable to you. Let them know when and how they provide value to the process so that they feel valued by you.

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition.

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