knowledge

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

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table – 1/8/19

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


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 vehicles or maybe after going to those vehicles, they have come to you.

In coming to you, many customers have the expectation that you can provide something beyond what they can find on a website or beyond what they can experience via social media customer service. They expect you to bring something extra to the table.

So, what do you bring that goes beyond the content they can find online?

First, Listening and Empathy. By engaging your organization online, customers cannot experience a sense that the organization cares about them personally, is willing to listen to their concerns, and cares about understanding what’s unique about their situation. So, listening is something extra you bring to the table. Empathy and a sense of understanding/caring is something they don’t get from those other communication vehicles.

Second, a Can-do Attitude. What customers experience online from your company includes a series of steps, facts, FAQ’s, and other information. But that online presence doesn’t really convey a true solution-oriented mindset. it doesn’t necessarily create a feel that the company desires to help them with their need. With your tone, words, and responsiveness, you convey the kind of Can-do attitude that is difficult to replicate online.

Third, an Understanding of Internal Processes. Oftentimes, that extra something you bring to the table is your internal knowledge of how your organization works. Few companies can or should open the doors and allow customers to see all the detailed innerworkings of their business. However, that internal knowledge you have helps you to guide the customer quickly and effectively down the path they need to succeed.

Finally, your Dot-Connecting Expertise. The customer may have an issue, a need, or a goal, and your organization might have a process, a product, or a service. But the company’s web presence is typically not designed to connect those dots. However, you have the knowledge and expertise to match the customer’s need with the specific solution your company offers.

In this day and age of online customer service, realize that there’s so much you can and should bring to that service situation that your company’s web presence cannot fully address.

Bring Something Extra to the Table.

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Get to Know Yourself Better – 1/30/18

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Confidence in your ability to deliver customer service is exceptionally important. I often quote Vince Lombardi who said “Confidence is contagious, and so is lack of confidence. And the customer can recognize both.”

Confidence is important to you and to the customer. It lets the customer know whether they can trust and believe you, or not. Should they follow what you say, or should they “answer shop?” Should they accept your explanation, or should they ask you 15 follow-up questions? Much of their response (and whether they end up wasting your time or the time of your co-workers) is based on your confidence.

So, what creates confidence?

Judith Bardwick (management consultant, psychiatrist, author) once said: Real confidence comes from knowing and accepting yourself – your strengths and your limitations – in contrast to depending on affirmation from others.

Starting with the last point first, don’t seek affirmation from others in order to drive your confidence. If you receive the compliments, then great! That’s a bonus. But don’t rely on someone else to do something for you in order for you to create a positive self-image.

Bardwick believes that being confident outwardly is based on your inward knowledge. Do you know your own strengths and weaknesses (or “limitations”)? Do you accept those? When I say “accept,” I’m not saying that you should refuse to improve, but at least be honest that that’s who you are at that specific moment.

Do this exercise to build your confidence in front of customers. Simply take out a sheet of paper, and write down 5-10 of your strengths that relate to customer service such communications, relationship-building, organizational skills, and other characteristics of people great at customer service. Then, write down 5-10 areas that are shortcomings or at least not your core strengths.

Then review the list. Tell yourself “yes, this is me at this moment. I am REALLY good at these 5-10. These other points are areas where I’m not great and may need to improve in the future.”

That knowledge and acceptance will help you to be more conscious of what to leverage when serving others (your strengths), and what situations to avoid or seek support in (your limitations).

Get to know yourself better to serve your customer more confidently.

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Train Customers to LOVE Your Experience – 11/8/16

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What are the components of your customer’s experience?

Let’s say your business sells boots.

How do they find out about your business and how to contact you? How do they know what boots you offer and what needs they address? How do they get a boot to test out or purchase? How do they determine if their preferred size and color are in stock? How much does the boot cost? How do they get it, and who will deliver it? How do they find out the delivery status?

These are the questions to answer, but we’re not designing the customer journey as much as we’re using these questions to ask you one more question.

How do we get customers educated enough on how to do business with you so that they absolutely LOVE your experience?

When businesses view the experience through the customer’s eyes, they can identify potential customer loss points due to frustration with a process, customer lack of knowledge, or customer lack of awareness. When you identify those potential loss points, then put yourself in the position of a teacher or a professor – one who can educate and train others:

  • Create simple infographics or diagrams that explain a process to customers.
  • Ensure that your process documents and your people clearly state what will happen next so the customer’s knowledgeable about what to expect and when.
  • Use webinars, training, and other education-based vehicles to train customers on how things work. Incorporate signage directing customers to next locations and next steps.
  • Give customers documents at the end of one step that clearly articulate what they need to do next or what will happen next and when.

Never assume that your customers are knowledgeable about your people, processes, and products. Make sure they’re knowledgeable enough to be comfortable and confident in doing business with you.

Train Customers to LOVE Your Experience.

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