knowledge

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

Narrate the Great Customer Experience – 12/8/15 TOW

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


With several clients recently, we’ve led visioning workshops to define the great customer experience as well as their desired culture – so these are topics top-of-mind in many industries. The problem for many staff is that they either already think they deliver a great experience, or different people define the great customer experience differently. So even if there is a vision created, how is that vision clearly articulated to staff?

Occasionally part of the communication plan for a new customer experience vision involves developing a narrative. Consider having a customer experience vision such as “We strive to be the premier grocery store in the community, where the best items and greatest attitudes in our region are seen by the quality of our produce and the smile on our employees’ faces!”

Okay – so the grocery store wants good produce and employees to smile. So what, right?

Let’s now paint the picture with a narrative of the vision that conveys what the customer may experience at checkout (read this as if you’re a customer):

It was the usual superb Grocers Unlimited experience. After hitting just those aisles where I knew they had the product I needed, I went to the register to check out. There was only one person ahead of me, and the cashier welcomed me to her area. She looked as though she had been having a great day, joking with the customer ahead of me about the local sports teams.

When it arrived for my turn to check out, bonus card in hand, the clerk again said hello and asked if she could scan my bonus card. She asked if I’d like her to hold onto my coupons until she was done.

The baggers had been flowing very consistently between the different registers to help. It didn’t seem like any cashier had to do his/her own bagging for an entire set of groceries.

Since I was in a talkative mood, I asked her about the customer service award placards on the wall. “How do you earn an award, a 100% rating,” I asked. “You have a mystery shopper come in who is looking for you to address her appropriately, take care of her needs, and ensure she’s satisfied,” she replied. I asked if she tries to figure out who might be a mystery shopper so that she can earn the award. The cashier said, “No. I try to treat everybody, my customer, my co-worker, my team leader like I would want a family member treated. As long as I keep that attitude, when the mystery shopper comes, I’ll get the reward.”

This short narrative about a two-minute transaction addresses many things – attitude, body language, customer engagement, employee knowledge, teamwork, employees who know their roles, proactivity, and efficient processes.

When you define your customer experience, narrate the story to be clear to others what’s expected.

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Be Proactive, in Helping Yourself – 6/2/15 TOW

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


The young homeowner went to the hardware store to buy a new chainsaw, and he asked the employee for advice. The employee suggested a particular model and noted that “it can cut up to 25 yards of wood a day.”

The homeowner was thrilled, so he bought the chainsaw and went home to start cutting.

A week later the homeowner went back to the hardware store with the chainsaw and asked to talk to that same employee.

“It’s a pretty good chainsaw,” said the customer, “but I was only able to cut 15 yards of wood a day.”

“Hmm,” said the employee. “Let me check it out.” So the employee pushed a button, pulled the cord, and the chainsaw started right up.

Immediately the customer yelled, “What’s that noise?!!”

I can’t take credit for this story, but I love it! Obviously the customer was trying to use the chainsaw without actually turning it on. He was probably working incredibly hard to get it to cut, and when the employee – who was more experienced in the use of chainsaws – started it up, the customer realized the issue. He was working much harder than necessary, and he wasn’t getting the productivity he needed.

That’s what can happen to us when we rely too much on ourselves. Look around your office. Who has some wisdom to share? Who has specialized knowledge of a product, more experience with a service, appears more adept at handling certain types of customers, or is more comfortable in certain situations?

Identify them, and tap into their wisdom. Maybe you won’t have to work as hard, and you’ll be a little more productive and effective.

Use your proactive nature to help yourself.

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To Banter or Not to Banter – 5/12/15 TOW

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


I love some good banter or chit-chat – it’s great for informal conversations with friends, family and co-workers. But when is it great for customer conversations?

First, let me define “Banter” in a customer context. Think of it as conversation about a topic that most likely has little to do with the customer’s need, issue, or question. You’re initiating a discussion about nothing pertinent to the conversation (e.g., Where are you calling from? Where did you get that beautiful bracelet? The weather has been crazy this year here, hasn’t it?).

So why would you ever have some light-hearted banter with the customer? There are many times:

  • When there’s downtime during the call – You want to keep the conversation going.
  • When the customer is NOT irate or angry – It’s too risky when they have that negative emotion to go off-topic – that may upset them unless you’re REALLY talented at defusing those emotions.
  • When you’re trying to learn more about them – You’re trying to show interest in them as an individual customer.
  • When it’s the beginning of the relationship – You want to know them better to serve them better.
  • When they clearly have time – Banter is more readily accepted by those more likely to be patient (not in a rush).
  • When they have NOT been waiting long – It takes time to banter – see their situation before bringing up other topics.
  • When you’re doing a task (on the computer, etc.) where they are waiting for your process to end – They won’t feel it’s a waste of time if they can tell that you’re still being productive.
  • When you’re trying to reduce the perception of wait time (such as a long stay in a waiting room) – It shows that you noticed them and are aware of them despite the fact that no service is being performed at that moment.

 
Banter? Chit-chat? Sure. Just be smart about when you do it.

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