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

Know When to Pause – 3/28/17

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


You don’t have to have the innate ability to perfectly understand the other person. You don’t have to know every answer. You don’t have to react immediately with the perfect response to what’s been said. To be great at customer service, you don’t have to be the perfect conversationalist.

Having the rapid-fire response, the quick answer, and the immediate set of perfect words is somewhat unrealistic, and definitely overrated.

A conversation is a dialogue, a sharing of ideas and thoughts and opinions and facts, back and forth. But the sharing in a customer service-related conversation has very distinct purposes. The purposes often involve establishing a rapport, understanding the other person, and addressing their need.

One thing that can positively impact rapport, understanding, and successfully addressing the need is a simple – but underused (and underrated) technique – the pause.

Too many conversations with complaining customers are made worse due to a hasty and ineffective (or inappropriate) employee response. “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “Why did you do that?” or “It’s not my fault” are clear mistakes in wording in most situations.

Reactions to requests or complaints can also cause more pain than they relieve with misdirected action. How many times has an employee transferred you to the wrong person (or without asking first, or without explaining to whom you’re being transferred and why)? How many times has the customer directed you to a website when you just wanted an answer on the phone – or worse yet – directed you to a website when you drove to their store to ask a question?

Sometimes the greatest action you can take in conversing with a customer is to pause. I’m not talking 5 minutes of dead silence, but take a few seconds to think, or ask for a minute or two to research the issue. But pause.

Give yourself time to respond instead of react. Give yourself time to think of the appropriate words to say, the best clarifying questions to ask, the best next step to suggest. Then move the conversation forward.

You don’t have to be the perfect conversationalist, but you can be better if you’re just willing to be patient with yourself – and pause.

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Don’t Multiply Your Troubles – 1/31/17

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What could go wrong? I need to figure that out so I can be prepared to respond in the right way. I need to anticipate the issues that could arise so that I’m prepared for them. After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. What are all the roadblocks that I could encounter? I must know them so that I can plan to overcome or avoid them.

While these are good planning-oriented statements, true in life and business, there’s a slippery slope that we must avoid – for our mental health if for no other reason.

Thinking ahead, understanding the worst that can happen, anticipating the issues that could arise – these may all be good things. But keep in mind that – even with the best planning and best intentions – bad things will happen. People will still be upset. Co-workers will still drop the ball. Issues will arise.

We can’t try to be such good planners and anticipators that we not only have to deal with the inevitable issues that will come up today, but we also continuously think of the issues that could happen tomorrow. Imagine our minds being occupied by today’s complaint, and once that’s done we worry about tomorrow’s complaint. We’re dealing with a co-worker’s lack of quality today that ticked off a client; then later we’re worried about the potential for that to happen tomorrow.

With this approach, we’re essentially multiplying our troubles. Adding to the real, tangible issues of today with the “what if” potential issues of tomorrow.

Yes, plan for the future and anticipate how to respond when bad things happen so you’re more prepared for those times when they do arise.

But don’t let the possibility of issues consume your mind. Better service, better days come from a healthier mindset – one where we’re optimistic about tomorrow; we’re hopeful about the future; we envision success.

Yes, plan for what could happen in the future; but avoid occupying your mind with negative “what ifs.”

Don’t multiply your troubles.

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Need Telephone Troubleshooting Tips? Here You Go! – 9/13/16

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


I received a request for help from an Information Technology call center representative. She wanted to better herself, but she had no access to corporate training. However, she clearly knew her needs – she had difficulty troubleshooting issues on the phone with customers.

She was communicating purely verbally – no written instructions for the user, no body language to read or convey. The representative sometimes got lost in the details of the issue, so it’s hard to help a novice user if the representative herself has difficulty keeping all the facts clear and top-of-mind. Also, the representative wasn’t always certain where the user was on the system versus where the representative expected the user to be during the resolution process.

So the representative wanted guidance – what were specific, tactical things she could do to better resolve issues on the phone? Here are some thoughts – although they’re written through the I.T. lens, they apply to any telephone troubleshooting situation:

  • Tell the customer that you’re going to ask several questions, and note why you’re asking (i.e., the better you can specifically know the issue and cause, the better you can give them the right solution).
  • Be patient with the customer – they probably are frustrated and may be overwhelmed.
  • Avoid acronyms and “tech terms” – the customers are probably not as knowledgeable as you.
  • Get to the root cause before you get to the solution. That way you can address it the first time without backtracking through resolution steps to alternative solutions.
  • If you get lost in the details, draw a picture of the issue and resolution process on a piece of paper (almost like a flow chart) while talking with the customer. That way, you don’t have to rely on your memory; you can see everything on one page. Possibly have standard bubbles on the paper that address key points including: hardware system, application/software, timing (time of day, day of week), frequency (first time or recurring), system messages, key issue occurring, etc.
  • If you have trouble explaining to the customer how to troubleshoot, walk them through the typical flow on your paper. Then, after each question or step they complete, confirm with the customer that they understand. Never go to Step 5 until you’re certain they’re done with Step 4 and you know where they are after Step 4.

Review these quick telephone troubleshooting tips, and tailor them to make the issue resolution process better for you and your customers.

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