issue resolution

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


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 Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

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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Know the Person’s Story – 6/23/15 TOW

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


The person standing in front of you – that customer – has an issue. They were overcharged, received a past due penalty because they didn’t get it rectified in time, and want it all corrected with the penalty waived.

You’ve dealt with a similar issue 100 times, so you know the process, but do you know the person?

Let’s see…

Prior to standing in front of you, that customer waited 8 minutes in line. Prior to that, they rode a cramped (and somewhat smelly) elevator to your floor. Before that, they waited 3 minutes for an elevator.

Prior to finding the elevator, they walked/jogged in a driving rain from the back section of the parking lot to the building. Prior to that, they drove past your building because of poor signage and had to go around the block again to get back to the entrance. Before that, they drove 25 minutes to get to your offices.

Three days prior to that, they called your organization’s general number, waited on hold for 3 minutes, and then were told they’d have to come downtown with proof of the overbill to get the issue rectified. Prior to that, they tried to find out how to fix it by going to your website, but they spent more than 15 minutes online, including an attempted live chat, and couldn’t get an answer.

Two days before that, they got in an argument with their spouse who saw the past due notice and saw how much he THOUGHT she paid for the service before realizing it was overcharged.

Two weeks prior to that, the customer left a voice mail for an employee that was never returned. A week prior to that, the customer received the initial invoice.

Let’s revisit where we’re at right now. They’re standing in front of you with an issue you’ve addressed 100 times. The transaction should take 3 minutes.

You now know the full story. What are you going to do differently?

Know the story of the person behind the problem.

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Define Quick, Then Keep Things Moving – 5/26/15 TOW

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


According to Dictionary.com, “responsiveness” in machinery terms is defined as “the ability of a machine or system to adjust quickly to suddenly altered external conditions, as of speed, load, or temperature, and to resume stable operation without undue delay.”

People are not machines, but it’s interesting how closely this “system” definition of responsiveness relates to our people definition.

When we are considered responsive, it is usually characterizing our quick reaction to something brought to us – a customer’s need, a co-worker’s issue, an e-mail, or a phone call.

The other person needs the response or the answer so they can move on. They can go to their next action, continue with the project, know what to do next, or have resolution so they no longer have to deal with an issue. The key in responsiveness is that this response of ours has to be “quick.” But “quick” is defined differently by different people. The definition could be “without undue delay,” but what is “undue delay?”

The busier I get and the more I rely on others as partners in accomplishing goals, the more I value responsiveness. Responsiveness is that which keeps us moving. To many, it’s that which shows we care. It’s that which ensures that the other person’s time isn’t wasted and their anxiety isn’t heighted by delay.

To me, quick is an acknowledgement of the e-mail or voice mail within 6 business hours. When it’s an urgent request, quick is defined more aggressively.

Talk to those you serve and work with in business. Understand what’s important to them and how they define “undue delay.” Learn their timing expectations so you can better be responsive to the needs of others.

Define Quick, Then Keep Things Moving.

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