issue resolution

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

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, 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

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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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