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

Share a Story of Success – 4/18/17

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


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

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


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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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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