leadership

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, Read more

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

Make Complaints Constructive – 7/18/17

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


Sandy aspires to be an excellent manager. She’s new to a leadership role and new to the organization. She’s come into her department with a ton of passion and energy. And now she’s in the middle of her “listening tour” – talking to different groups of employees, understanding the department’s history, its culture, and its approach to customer service.

In the middle of her third meeting, all her passion and energy started to get sapped – minute by minute, complaint by complaint. She was listening to staff, but it had turned into a gripe session. Literally nothing she was hearing was positive. Issue after issue was voiced. Sandy thought about asking – “What is something/ANYTHING positive going on in the department?”, but she didn’t want to have her staff feel like they couldn’t voice complaints to her or that she only wanted to hear positives.

So she asked a different question: What are some solutions to the issues we’re discussing?

Crickets. Nobody said a word, for 5 seconds, then 15, then 30.

Sandy gave into the silence and said: For example, what can be done differently, more consistently, or better relating to communications, planning, decision-making, relationship-building – just the general work environment?

And finally, people started offering ideas – not a ton of ideas, but it changed the dynamic of the conversation. The tone became less negative, and staff offered some great solutions to consider.

There are many lessons to learn from this, but let’s focus on two.

First, managers, listen to your staff. Communication is a 2-way street, and that bi-directional dialogue is great for understanding culture, morale, and even customer viewpoints from those closest to the customers – front-line staff.

Second, growth only comes through change and improvement, so complaints without solutions aren’t productive – they don’t lead to improvement and growth. Staff should support leaders with ideas to complement the complaints. Likewise, when dealing with complaining customers, sometimes asking the customer “What could we do to make this right?” or “What solution would help in this situation?” could make our lives as service providers easier – with customers offering solutions for us to consider instead of employees having to conjure up all the creative ideas themselves.

Do you have a complaint? Are you dealing with a complaining customer or employee? Consider tapping into the ideas of those complaining to identify potential solutions.

Make Complaints Constructive.

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The Light that Others Reflect – 10/25/16

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Getting philosophical for the next 300 words.

The angry customer. The pushy or obnoxious co-workers. The demanding manager. The products that don’t always work. The stress on the faces and in the voices of customers and the employees serving them.

There are many dark moments that you may have to deal with during the course of your week at work. These are the dark encounters of our work day, those that can bring down morale, reduce the joy, and dampen employee enthusiasm.

But there is a light. There is a source of positivity, laughter, vision, and empathy. And that light is you.

I’ve been in some focus groups of employees discussing low morale. It seems like half the staff have the mindset of “once leaders change, then I’ll change.” While the other half seem to say “I’m not going to wait for others to behave professionally or positively before I act that way as well. They don’t control my behaviors.”

There’s an obvious difference in the two reactions. The first is passivity in the darkness. The second is taking ownership.

When we have a light – a positive nature, kindness, professionalism, respect, empathy and encouragement – we can be like the light in a room. Have you ever been in a room with a couple large mirrors? Those mirrors reflect that one light, helping the entire room to brighten more than it would otherwise.

The point is that dark situations at work should be opportunities for us – opportunities to bring in light. Opportunities to have your light be reflected in the attitudes and actions of others.

Be the Light that Others Reflect.

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It’s About Leadership and Appreciation – 7/5/16 TOW

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CSS does a lot of work with local government, education, and healthcare organizations. They all have a great deal in common. They typically have tons of customer interactions using various methods – phone, in-person, e-mail, etc. They have many policies, procedures, regulations, and laws to which they must adhere. They’re typically mid-to-large sized organizations, and creating an engaged and aligned workforce can be a challenge.

We’re working with one client in particular on culture change, and in a recent survey of staff, we asked them to describe their desired culture and what’s needed to create it. Two themes came up repeatedly in response to the “What’s needed” question – Leadership and Appreciation.

Leadership. Many staff said that the culture needs to start with leadership. Managers need to model the organizational values and customer service standards. Executives need to treat the staff like they expect staff to treat the customers.

Appreciation. In these types of organizations, legal, political, and financial barriers limit the amounts and types of financial compensation, incentives, and rewards that can be provided to employees. So in this survey, staff focused on Appreciation. They wanted to be recognized for good work and behaviors that align to the organizational values. They liked some of the initiatives that the organization had already put in place that enable staff to recognize each other. They wanted to feel valued, and that sense of being valued is in part driven by the Appreciation of their attitudes, skills, knowledge, and quality work.

An engaged workforce – having employees truly passionate about the company, its customers, and their role in the success – is not easy to create, but it can be done.

And it starts with a concerted effort to address two themes.

Start with Leadership and Appreciation.

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