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

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

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


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.


Houston, We Don’t Have a Problem – 6/11/13 TOW

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

It was the first time that I had used this shuttle service, and it was also my first trip to Houston. I decided to take the shuttle from the airport to the hotel since I had extra time and because it was about half the price of a taxi. After paying for the shuttle at the check-in desk, I was told that the driver was en-route, and it would be no more than 20 minutes before he arrived. The driver did arrive about 15 minutes later; a good start, and from then on, it was a perfect experience.

After taking my luggage, Barry, the driver, suggested that I sit on the front row since I’d be the first one dropped off at my destination. He asked if I had been to Houston, and since I hadn’t, he became my tour guide for the next 25 minutes, picking up other customers and then heading into town.

He raved about my hotel and its proximity to sites and restaurants. He mentioned the new bicycle stands that the City had put up around town. He pointed out the baseball field and the convention center as we arrived. At this point, Barry seemed more like a representative of the Houston Chamber of Commerce than he did an employee of the shuttle company.

He described how and when to reserve the shuttle for my return to the airport (which I did), and he noted that I could track my pickup shuttle real-time online to know exactly where the van was at all times (which I did).

As I was preparing to leave Houston two days later, I got an automated call noting that the shuttle would arrive in 10 minutes. And the shuttle arrived 10 minutes later.

This experience (to and from the hotel) was a combination of great attitudes, processes, and systems.

How customer-oriented and integrated are your organization’s attitudes, processes, and systems?

Look for a little shuttle magic in your organization.