knowledge

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

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


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 Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her 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.