issue resolution

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with 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

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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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