knowledge

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

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

Review the Failures of Others to Ensure Success – 7/22/14 TOW

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


“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Many people have said variations of this – from George Santayana to Lemony Snicket – and I’m saying it today because it reminds me of a question I was asked recently.

A French financial services firm interviewed me about customer service and client retention for their internal publication. One of the questions addressed the many seemingly excellent customer service strategies and initiatives that don’t work. Essentially, why do they fail?

Here are four key reasons I provided:

  • Leadership Doesn’t Really Buy-In – Although leaders may talk about the importance of customer service and the client experience, they make decisions based on the product, they create incentives focused on new sales only, they sign-off on strategies that focus purely on reducing cost per unit. They talk the customer service talk, but their structures and incentives don’t align with service and retention goals. Here’s an example if you haven’t heard the recent Comcast customer retention call?
  • The Company Doesn’t Dedicate Resources – While an organization may care about the customer, if there’s no designated individual, division, strategy, or budget that focuses on service and retention, it won’t work. Sustaining an organization-wide effort is impossible if the initiative is 5% of the jobs of many without ever being the totality of the job of at least a few people in the organization.
  • The CX Definition is Limited – A small business owner laughed at me once when I brought up the concept of Internal Customers. He didn’t believe that employees should view and treat each other as customers. He didn’t believe that the customer experience (CX) applied to anyone within the corporate walls. He thought culture was irrelevant in driving a great service experience and retention. Zappos would disagree.
  • Tactic Supersedes Strategic – Too many companies conduct a survey, change a computer system, start a call center, send out memos telling staff to answer calls in 3 rings, and then expect their customer service scores and retention rates to jump off the charts. For organizations to be great at customer service, they need to view their organization as a system – where all the people, processes, programs, and technology interrelate and work for the good of the customer and company. Have a strategy for sustained service excellence and growth; tactics should then flow from that strategic view.

 
Align Around the Customer, Dedicate Resources, Look Within, and Think Strategically.

Ensure your organization doesn’t repeat the failures of business history.

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It’s Okay if You Don’t Know Anything about Tomatoes – 7/15/14 TOW

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Going to Otto’s Home Improvement to get an opinion on a tomato – it shouldn’t be an aggravating experience. But for Lance, it resulted in a nail-on-the-chalkboard (do they still have chalkboards?) feeling.

Lance’s wife was growing tomatoes on the back deck, and several tomatoes were growing quickly. Good news, right? Well there was a problem – the tomatoes were still green on top but becoming black underneath and starting to shrivel up.

Luckily Lance had a “go to” lady in the garden center at Otto’s, so he drove to the store seeking advice. He walked up to 4 staff chatting with each other at the garden center entrance and asked for the “go to” lady, but she was off that day.

So Lance showed a tomato to others and asked for advice. He was greeted by blank stares and no response for about 15 seconds. Then one employee walked up, took the tomato, looked closely, said “that’s a fungus,” and started walking.

Lance took off after the employee, and they walked into the store toward the outdoor chemicals. The employee stopped in front of the plant chemicals, started staring, and didn’t say a word. After about a minute of quiet staring, Lance asked “what are you looking for?”

“A green bottle,” was the reply.

“What is it?”

“I’m not sure, but it works.”

“What brand?

“I don’t know.” There was a long pause, and then the employee said “it’s not there; sorry.” He walked off.

Lance was able to grab the tomato before the employee walked away and then went home to his wife. The next day Lance’s wife took the tomato to another garden center, and the issue was a lack of calcium. The store sold her a spray to add calcium, and the tomatoes grew perfectly thereafter.

In the world of serving others, none of us are omniscient. We don’t know all, and that’s okay. In those times when we don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say “I don’t know,” but follow that up with “I’ll find out.” Take initiative on behalf of the customer, but don’t let that initiative lead you down a path of time wasted and misinformation. Admit the knowledge gap, and quickly move to get the answer.

It’s okay to say you don’t know anything about tomatoes.

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Build Your Confidence with the 5 P’s – 4/22/14 TOW

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


Sometimes a person’s anxiety, worry, indecision, passivity, inefficiency, and lack of ownership can all have the same source – lack of confidence. It could be the student unwilling to raise his hand in class; we could be discussing the leader making decisions simply by not making decisions. Maybe it’s the adult talking with twelve friends and family members about something to gain the 100% certainty that will never exist. Maybe it’s the employee who won’t take on a responsibility because they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing.

Years ago, we shared a Tip of the Week (TOW) that talked about how to build confidence, and what we’re doing today is expanding that list to build your confidence further. To build your confidence, here are the 5 P’s of knowledge-building. You need to “Know Your:”

  • Processes – Learn your organization’s information flows and process flows so you can know HOW things occur and be able to explain the HOW of actions to customers.
  • Policies – Understand the company’s policies and the reasons for them to be able to explain the WHY behind the WHAT to customers.
  • Products – Become well aware of your organization’s products and services so you can easily match the customer’s issue/need/goal to your company’s solution.
  • People – Know who does what in your organization so you’re aware of whom to contact to address a need; also, get to know your customers – ask questions, look at their purchase/participation/service history so you can tailor your response to what makes them and their situation unique.
  • Purpose – Understand your purpose. We’ll address this more in next week’s TOW, but think of Purpose like this – why do you do what you do? Beyond the tasks, meetings, notes, communications, paperwork – what is the greater good in what you do? If you know the ultimate goal of your role, you can be more confident, particularly when what you are being asked to do might not be “within the job description.”

Use this knowledge-based approach to becoming more confident in interactions with customers.

Build confidence by building knowledge.