issue resolution

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

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

A Letter of Apology – 11/25/14 TOW

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


If you were searching your Inbox for the Customer Service Tip of the Week at the normal time last week, I’m sorry that it wasn’t there to be found. Our e-mail provider had a major service issue, and the e-mail was delayed. Constant Contact has been an excellent e-mail/survey partner for CSS, so I wasn’t thrilled, but I’ll cut them a little slack because of past – and positive – history.

Lessons can be learned from last week by reviewing the e-mail/letter/blog post sent from the CEO. Click here to review the letter.

The CEO started by empathizing with the client and apologizing. She explained the issue that caused the problem without appearing to make many excuses. She reassured the clients that the system was now working fine, apologized again, noted how she values the client’s time, and offered support if the client needed help.

In this day and age of “LOL” and “IMO”, this letter of apology was “OMG” – pretty good! Professional letter writing is definitely a lost art. Read the letter, and e-mail me at edward.gagnon@cssamerica.com with your thoughts. What would you have done differently? What did you like best?

Sometimes we can learn best from the failures of others, so we don’t replicate those failures ourselves. And even in the missteps of others, we can learn the positives of what they did right to respond.

Learn a little lesson from a letter of apology.

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Not So Fast with Quick Issue Resolution – 11/4/14 TOW

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The technique we suggest to our clients for dealing with the irate customer is easily taught but not easily perfected. It involves listening, empathizing, accepting responsibility, and delivering on a remedy. We’ve taught literally thousands of Service Excellence training participants how to use this highly effective technique, but many employees have trouble executing it well.

When observing staff role-playing the technique in their small groups, there are reasons why it sometimes doesn’t work – the employee’s tone doesn’t sound sincerely empathetic. The employee makes no eye contact. The employee doesn’t ask questions about the specifics of the issue. Maybe the employee gets defensive.

But the biggest pitfall stems from the fact that most employees want to get out of these conversations fast. There are two typically reasons for this desire for speed: (1) Employees are uncomfortable dealing with angry customers, so they quickly want to remove themselves from the situation, and (2) Employees sincerely believe that quick resolution is what the customer wants – which typically is true.

The biggest pitfall is an employee’s lack of patience.

Whether the employee is trying to extricate themselves from the conversation or help the customer get that quick resolution, the most frequent drawback in taking those perspectives is that they try to navigate the conversation too quickly. They’re not patient. They talk fast. They don’t give the customer enough time to vent. They quickly go to a solution without learning the facts. They interrupt the customer. They say “I’m sorry” so early on and so quickly that the sincerity is lost. They try to end the conversation before they allow the customer to drop the emotions. They try to take control with speed rather than take control with well-worded questions.

Quick resolution is a noble goal, but the best way to get there involves listening, empathizing, and being patient enough to ask the right questions so you can present the right solution. Speeding to an end rarely ends well.

Summon all your patience when presented with a service recovery situation.

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A Story from Rene – 10/21/14 TOW

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


My friend Rene told a story recently that you may have heard, but it’s worth another read…

A little girl named Sandi was walking on a beach the morning after a rough storm had passed through. Strewn across the beach were hundreds, possibly thousands of starfish. One-by-one, Sandi would pick up a starfish and toss it back into the ocean.

A man was taking a morning walk and noticed what the girl was doing. The man asked Sandi why she was doing it, and she told him that she was trying to get the starfish back to the sea so they could survive.

The man replied, “But there could be thousands of starfish out here. You can’t possibly make much of a difference.”

Sandi’s face turned sad, she looked down, and stared at the ground. Then she slowly walked forward, picked up another starfish, and tossed it into the sea. “Well I made a difference to that one,” she said.

As Sandi continued, the man paused, and then he too started picking up the starfish and throwing them into the sea. Soon others who had been watching Sandi – and now the man as well – joined in. Eventually, all the starfish were back in the ocean.

Why do I relay this story to you today?

People who are great at customer service have some Sandi in them. You may not be able to change the entire world by addressing every customer that exists, by resolving every issue that occurs. But you make a difference with that one person in front of you, that one person on the phone, that one unique individual who sent the e-mail or wrote the letter.

You make a difference, and in doing so – whether you realize it or not – you get noticed. Maybe it’s your boss or a co-worker, it’s a friend or the customer himself – but somebody notices. And maybe because you do what you do so well in taking care of that one customer, someone else is educated or inspired to do likewise.

It’s not just leaders who are models. People who are great at caring for others through customer service are models, too.

Appreciate every opportunity to toss that starfish back to the sea.

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