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

Of Ross, Unagi, and the Attacking Customer – 6/19/18

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


If you’ve ever watched the TV sitcom called Friends, you may remember that one of the characters was named Ross. In one episode, he is trying to educate some of his female friends (who just took a self-defense course) on a concept he calls Unagi. Basically, to Ross, this is a concept that would help him anticipate when he was about to be attacked. Once attacked, then he could use his karate. Of course, Ross got his terms confused; he should have said Zanshin; instead he used Unagi – a Japanese word for freshwater eel.

Ross also wasn’t particularly good at Unagi or karate, as later in the episode his Friends “attacked” him when his Unagi failed, and they got him in a submission hold.

In the world of customer service, it would be great if we had Unagi. It would be great if we had some kind of a radar that could anticipate that customer who is going to attack us or bully us into getting what they want.

Unfortunately, for the most part, Unagi does not exist. However, these are 3 different tactics to consider when you’re faced with a customer potentially trying to bully his way to a particular outcome:

Restrain – Hold back on the urge to verbally fight back with personal attacks against the customer, blaming them for things that have happened in the situation. Once we heighten our emotional level and try to match theirs, usually we’re going to end up having a situation get even worse. Restrain a little bit instead of reacting with defensiveness and our own personal feelings.

Redirect – Consider ways to get the conversation away from the personal attack and away from their solutions to focus more on a scenario where you are redirecting the conversation by asking questions. You’re trying to learn details. You’re trying to understand specifics, and all the while by asking your questions you’re not only getting the conversation to focus on what you want to focus on, but you’re also taking control of the conversation.

Recuse – At some point, the conversation gets too heated; it’s too personal; you may need to recuse yourself from the conversation. This does not mean to ignore the customer and the issue. What it does mean is that sometimes it’s best to bring in a co-worker, bring in a supervisor, bring in somebody else and recuse yourself from the situation. Oftentimes that mere pause for the handoff can deescalate the emotions. By bringing in someone else, it gets the focus off of you and the dynamics with you and the customer. Sometimes the customer feels they’re making progress through a resolution process by viewing the next person (especially if you position the handoff this way) as a key next step in the process.

Why you might not have Unagi, find ways to restrain, redirect, and – if necessary – recuse yourself when you’re dealing with the attacking customer.

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When it’s – Truly – Not Your Fault – 6/12/18

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Jennie was under fire. She was the first line of defense – the front-line worker in the software firm. She didn’t make the software. She didn’t cause it to have errors. She wasn’t the one apparently avoiding the biggest customer’s calls.

Yet, here she was – dealing with the issue, the anger, the emotion of the customer, and it was truly NOT her fault.

This is when you could have one of a number of urges – you can argue, you can ameliorate (an underrated word!), you can obfuscate (nice SAT word!), you can empathize, or you can throw your co-worker or company “under the bus.”

This is the time to hold back on that last urge – don’t take down a co-worker to take down the customer’s emotion. This is when that phrase “you have to be the bigger person” comes into play. The best response to a customer situation is not always what we’d prefer to do. The best response is often not the easiest. The best response isn’t always painless in the short-term.

The best response – when it’s truly not your fault – starts before you get into the technique, the wording, the engagement with the customer. The best response starts before you respond to them – it starts with how you decide to handle yourself.

It’s a matter of having the conscious thought that “It’s not about me. Let me do what’s best for the customer and the company. Let me focus on others – not focusing on who’s to blame (or not to blame, in this case).”

It’s a mindset and a realization that – yes – you have to be the bigger person.

Thanks for what you do as a customer service representative of your organization.

And thanks for what you don’t do – namely throwing your co-worker “under the bus.”

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What to do DURING a Bad Experience – 5/15/18

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After providing the final research report to a client recently, even though the report provided tremendous detail and a 10-page Executive Summary, the client asked that I cull down the key takeaways to a few bullet points. As I glanced back through the report, there was one exceptionally interesting finding.

As background, this research was for an event that takes place annually. One of our approaches to analysis is to look at the characteristics of last year’s respondents and their individual responses to the survey, then identify which of those attributes strongly correlated to renewal and attendance at this year’s event.

One of the strongest factors impacting renewal to this year’s event was Event-related Communications. Last year’s event was negatively impacted by the weather, and it was interesting that many of the respondents felt better about the overall experience if they felt better about Event-related Communications, and they felt worse about the overall experience if they were not satisfied with the Event-related Communications.

Essentially, when an organization has challenges, a particular event as issues, a product or service has poor quality or lacks timeliness, the importance of effective communication ramps up dramatically.

When things are going bad, it’s better to overcommunicate than under communicate. It’s better to be more proactive and provide information above and beyond about what the issues are, what the resolutions may be, and what timeframes are expected.

It’s not just a good thing to keep customers in the loop, but when significant issues arise, those communications are often the difference between a renewal and a cancellation, the difference between keeping a customer and sending them to a competitor, the difference between a repurchase and lost business.

When you look at your ongoing customer Touch Point Strategies, make sure that there are specific strategies in place that enhance customer communications when the experience goes bad.

Know what to do during a bad experience.

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