issue resolution

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

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

You Control with Questions – 3/22/16 TOW

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


They’re irate, ranting and raving – spewing the emotion your way.

They. Just. Won’t. Stop. Talking.

They’re rambling with no clear point or need or concern being conveyed.

You’re enjoying the discussion, but you have LOTS of other things to do.

If you find yourself in these situations with a customer or co-worker, you’re not alone. There are times when you need to get control of the conversation. They’re upset and you need to get the emotions down to begin moving toward a resolution. They’re talking non-stop, and you need to begin closing the conversation. There’s a lot being said but no real point being shared. Sometimes you just have other work that is being delayed by the conversation.

People who are great at customer service are inquisitive. But they’re not just inquisitive because they’re curious. They’re asking questions because they know that questions provide control.

Too many employees try to gain control by talking fast (not letting the customer speak), interrupting the other person, talking loudly, or using rude body language. But questions provide a much more professional way of taking control.

Your objective questions help you to get the kind of thinking and facts that draw down emotions. Your close-ended questions help to elicit shorter responses. Your targeted questions get at the key point or need. And your questions help you to become more productive by closing conversations more quickly.

You’re not using the questions to control the other person. Rather, you’re using questions to gain control of the emotions and direction of the conversation itself.

Become an expert at asking questions.

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Have a HOFAS Talk – 11/10/15 TOW

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


I was dealing with an issue at a non-profit organization where I volunteer, and the employees were in a disagreement about how to handle a situation. There was no shortage of opinions, and the rumor mill was rampant. Much of what was said behind the proverbial closed door was negative about “them,” whoever “them” was to the one speaking.

To begin to deal with the issue, we began to facilitate small group conversations. The goal was for people with differing opinions to talk out in the open with each other so – eventually – everyone would have a fuller understanding and some empathy for others. This would create the platform from which progress and decisions could be made.

I bring this up because the 5 core principles we used in the conversations could be applied to most significant issues you might have with an irate customer or co-worker. The acronym to remember is HOFAS:

  • History – Get the facts of the situation, the background clear. Ensure that you’re starting the conversation with the same understanding.
  • Opinions – Encourage people to offer their perspective. Try to avoid arguing with their opinions; remember that those are just opinions, not facts, and people are generally entitled to opinions.
  • Feelings – Let them get the emotions out. If people can vent, they can usually blow off steam and begin to calm down.
  • Alternatives – Identify potential next steps, sometimes soliciting their ideas for resolutions, and often trying to identify more than one solution in order to offer everyone choices and flexibility.
  • Solutions – Determine which action to take, and which solution to pursue. Confirm what you all decided would be the next steps and timeframes.

 
You want to start these conversations by noting the 5 core principles and sharing that all comments should be provided in a manner that’s helpful and respectful. This reinforces the desired tone of the conversation and suggests that the discussion be about the issue, not the individual.

When dealing with the irate customer or co-worker, ensure the other person gets to talk. People want to be heard and to feel that they matter.

Have a HOFAS talk.

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