issue resolution

Grind it out Today for a Better Tomorrow - 8/11/20


It’s been said that You Learn Perseverance by Persevering.  You are becoming mentally tougher right now.  The pain and the difficulties and the change today are making you stronger for dealing with the uncertainties of tomorrow. We’re all having to be more flexible.  We are all facing less consistency, less Read more

Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19


What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect. No Communication = No Connection If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we Read more

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, Read more

Effectively Teach the Customer - 7/28/20


The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher.  The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student.  In 3rd Read more

Meet on Equal and Even Ground - 7/21/20


“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service. We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding Read more

When Customers are…Jerks - 7/14/20


Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have Read more

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected Read more

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world 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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