knowledge

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

Get Your Guru On – 8/25/20

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

You may have heard of management gurus – these people who seemed to know all and be all, to have the wisdom of 1000 leaders.  Maybe you’ve heard it in your industry as a guru in sports psychology or the master of economics or sociology or human behavior.

And so you don’t roll your eyes at the thought of you being a guru, it’s always helpful to understand the origin of the word.  Upanishads in 10th century to 6th century BC said “The syllable ‘gu’ means darkness, the syllable ‘ru’ means dispeller; he is therefore called a ‘guru’ because he dispels darkness.”

I really like this definition – it goes away from the modern interpretation that gurus are far more brilliant than any of us could ever imagine being, that they are somehow superior intellectually to others.

The Situations with Darkness

With Upanishads’ definition in mind, how can we become gurus in our respective jobs?  The definition talks about gurus being people who can dispel darkness.  So to be a guru, you don’t have to have knowledge far exceeding others.  You just have to have a given situation where you can dispel darkness.

Maybe it’s dealing with the sports fan who is unsure whether to invest in tickets for games this year.  You could be dealing with the local contractor who is struggling with tasks he’s done 100 times because he’s so overwhelmed by economic concerns.  You could be dealing with a patient or a family member whose anxiety and fear of the unknown is understandably high.

How to Bring Light

Einstein once said that darkness is an absence of light, so how can you bring light in these situations?

You bring it in by listening to the other person.  You bring it in by truly trying to understand what they’re going through, even if you’re not going through it yourself.  You try to identify what is causing that darkness and see if there are some solutions that can be brought to light.  You try to bring some lightness in tone to the situation – often people are so concerned and burdened that just the positive/pleasant/upbeat tone and some levity, appropriately delivered, can bring light in the situation.

Being a guru can mean dispelling darkness.  It can be you enlightening them on new information.  It can be you bringing to light something that’s unknown to them, that may work for them.  It can be you being light at times in the tone you take.

To truly be a guru, understand what could be causing their darkness and dispel it by enlightening them, bringing solutions to light, and bringing a lighter tone whenever possible.

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

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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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