issue resolution

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

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

A Dent for Dana – 5/16/17

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


There was no hot water in the house when Dana got home from work, so she walked downstairs to the basement to find a mini flood. Apparently a neighbor had put so much yard waste into a sewer drain that – after a heavy rain – water got backed up…and flowed right into Dana’s basement – yuck.

More than that, the water rose high enough to burn out the hot water heater – a wet basement and no hot water…joy.

But Dana had a good attitude about it; the water and gas utilities came out quickly to find the cause of the problem and to diagnose the issue with the water heater. In the end, the yard waste was cleared out, the water level went down, and there was no other lasting damage – except for a dead water heater.

Dana contacted two companies, and the winner was selected to install the new water heater. The installers were nice, discussed the process with Dana, and worked independently in the basement as Dana worked upstairs. When they were finished, they left. How did Dana know they left? She saw them driving away.

So she checked the water, and it was starting to warm. Then she went downstairs to look at the beautiful new water heater, and it had a big dent in the bottom. Dana’s heart sunk. “I didn’t pay for a used water heater.” “I hope it’s not damaged inside.” “I hope it’s safe, and the gas lines aren’t compromised.”

Dana frantically began googling and after about 30 minutes realized it was probably just a cosmetic issue, but she was still frustrated, upset, disappointed – you name it. She called the company, and the manager said he’d check with the installers and call Dana back.

When they called back, the manager stated that they dented it during the install, but it was just cosmetic – no internal issues. He offered a discount to Dana on any future service.

While there are a lot of issues with this true customer service story, here’s where I’m focused. This customer had just purchased something new, something to address an issue she didn’t cause with the basement flooding. Yet, through it all she had a good attitude.

Then the employees dented the water heater, didn’t tell the customer, and drove off – leaving Dana having spent hundreds of dollars to alleviate an issue only to have that resolution cause her anxiety, frustration, and upset.

Nobody’s perfect; we all make mistakes; accidents happen (Yes, I’m rolling out every excuse – uh, “explanation”). But that does not mean that accidents are irrelevant.

We need to own up to our mistakes with customers; be willing to apologize – even for the accidents. Initiate the conversation with the customer and be willing to say “I’m sorry,” even before the customer knows there’s an issue.

It’s about being proactive and professional.

Learn from the Dent in Dana’s Water Heater.

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Share a Story of Success – 4/18/17

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Rebecca was continuing through the cycle of life, and she was at the stage as a mom where her teenager was looking at colleges. Have you ever been with a teenager on a college tour? Rebecca had not, but after going on 3-4 with her child, there was one aspect that was especially interesting.

After a 20-30 minute slide presentation from an Admissions counselor at the college, the prospective students and their families were broken up into groups for a tour of campus.

Rebecca noticed that the groups she and her teenager were in (like the other groups) were led by current students. These students were typically managing 12-20 high schoolers and their parents, navigating throughout the campus – in and out of buildings – and talking the whole time. These tour guides seemed exceptionally knowledgeable, answered questions comfortably, were high-energy, and had the amazing ability to walk backwards for 60 minutes straight while describing the campus…without falling down – AMAZING!

While these college students were amazing in their tour guide capabilities, they also had one other subtle positive characteristic. Rebecca noticed that she began envisioning the guides as the students that her child would attend college with, be friends with, and be surrounded by during her college years. These were students that she and her child could relate to, and that made the comfort with as well as the confidence in the college grow.

So how does this relate to customer service?

Oftentimes our customers are like the uncertain parent or the indecisive high schooler – there’s not great confidence or comfort. Maybe there’s a little anxiety or uncertainty.

We often respond to that uncertainty by describing next steps or focusing on providing the soothing tone of voice – these are all good things. But here’s the lesson from the college tours.

Also address those emotions of uncertainty, lack of comfort, and anxiety by painting a picture for the customer of other customers similar to them who had success.

“I was working with another new client last week on a similar issue, and this is what we did to resolve things.”

“We’ve had other patients who were dealing with a similar concern, and our doctors and nurses were great at diagnosing the true issue so that we were able to help them feel better.”

“One of our other season ticket holders last year made a similar request, and we were able to find an option that worked for them, so I’m confident we’ll be able to help you.”

Use these examples to see how to paint that picture for customers that puts them in a place where a vision of their success is more clear.

To build the customer’s confidence, share a story of success about a similar customer.

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Their Tone is “a Tell” – 4/4/17

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On March 14 we shared a Tip on how to read a customer’s body language, then how to use that reading to refine your response.

You can do the same thing with the other person’s tone of voice. Whether they’re Angry, Afraid/Anxious, or Sad, the emotions can be conveyed differently through the voice. And some of these emotions require you to respond differently.

Those that are angry typically have these characteristics of their tone of voice:

  • Loud voice
  • Emphasizing every syllable (particularly if loud)
  • Emphasizing negative words
  • Rapid speech
  • Interrupting you
  • Potentially high pitch.

 
Those that are afraid, anxious, or sad typically have these characteristics of their tone of voice:

  • Series of pauses…um’s
  • Talking in a monotone voice
  • Wavering tone
  • Breaks in the strength
  • Potentially rapid speech
  • Potentially high pitch.

 
Along with listening to the other person’s words, listen to their sounds. Pay attention to the detail. It will inform your approach – which is different for anger reduction as opposed to reducing anxiety. It will tell you whether to gain control of the conversation through questions, empathy, and apology (for anger) or whether to build credibility by conveying your experience in working through situations like theirs and creating comfort by clearly describing what needs to happen next to resolve the issue (for anxiety or sadness).

The customer’s “Tell” is the voice – not necessarily just the words. And how should you respond with your own voice in these emotional situations? Keep in mind:

  • Lower and Slower – It’s hard for an irate person to continue to yell at someone speaking softly, and a slower pace reduces the energy in the conversation.
  • Inflect for Interest – They want to feel like you care; convey caring by avoiding the monotone; instead, use periodic inflection when engaging.
  • Key Word Emphasis – Highlight with your voice (with pauses or a slightly modified tone) those specific words that convey understanding, empathy, caring, and key next steps.

 
Always listen to the other person’s words, but also listen to the sounds they convey; the sounds often share the emotions that the words can hide.

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