learn

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

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

Stop Rolling Your Eyes – 5/7/19

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

Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned.

I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over the years, and it doesn’t happen terribly often, but sometimes I will notice an attendee rolling their eyes when I suggest something, or they’re saying something under their breath to the person sitting next to them. Often, I can tell by reading the body language or hearing a little bit of what was said that the point they’re making is “That wouldn’t work with our customers.”

Maybe what we’re suggesting wouldn’t work, since nothing works on 100% of the customers in 100% of the situations. But unless an individual employee has a perfect batting average in their encounters with customers, they can learn more. And even if they are “batting 1000,” the situations tomorrow, the customers tomorrow, the processes of tomorrow, and the technology of tomorrow will all be different, and that risk of striking out is back in play.

So, today’s Tip is not a specific technique. It’s not a specific how to. It’s a suggestion to listen when a co-worker suggests something. It’s a suggestion to be open to hearing a success story and spending a minute to think about how you can apply that to your daily work. It’s a suggestion to hear a technique and not dismiss it because your customers are different. Rather, consider how to apply the why behind the what to what’s unique about you, your company, and your customers.

Being open to learn and grow is one of the greatest assets you can have in this rapidly-changing world of customer service.

View every encounter with your leaders, your peers, your trainers, and your customers as an opportunity to listen and to learn.

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A Blockbuster of a Mess – 5/3/16 TOW

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It was vacation time at the beach – and it was pouring rain. With no beach time possible and with the unappetizing thought of spending all day long inside with a condo full of teenagers, Jacob decided to find something to do. So with teenagers in tow, Jacob took the kids to the movies.

They went to the nearest theater – the first time they had been there – and what started out as a great idea for a 2-3 hour diversion became a good decision gone bad.

Now keep in mind, it’s a Saturday afternoon and it’s pouring, so that’s a good indication to theater management that it’s going to be busy; a blockbuster was opening that weekend – again, it’s going to be busy. So Jacob and his crew arrived at the theater about 30 minutes early, waiting in the rain for 15 minutes – got up to the ticket window and were told – it JUST SOLD OUT. Ugh.

Good news! Next show is in 30 minutes. So they bought the tickets and went inside, but they and eventually about 80-100 other people were waiting behind a rope. Although there were 4 concession areas, there was only 1 open; the other 3 were closed, and the staff wouldn’t let customers buy any concessions or wander around the rest of the lobby until the other movies started. So 80-100 wet people were cramped behind a rope and against the wall together until the next show was about to start.

The lessons were many.

The forecast had said rain for days. The theater knew of the blockbuster opening for weeks. Staffing could have increased to open other concessions. They could have modified the rope lines and setup to allow people access to more of the lobby so they weren’t so cramped. They could have said “I’m sorry” at least once or twice. But none of this happened.

No anticipation – of high demand on Saturday.
No adjustments – to staffing or customer access/flow.
No acknowledgement – of the issues.
No apologies – by staff.

Look ahead to Anticipate and Adjust. And when that doesn’t work, Acknowledge and Apologize.

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To Improve Yourself, Hone Your Learning Skills – 4/26/16 TOW

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Facebook didn’t exist 15 years ago, and now companies provide customer service through it. Millennials weren’t a prevalent customer base 10 years ago, and now they dominate many companies’ customer service approach. In many industries, the customer experience wasn’t seen as vital to the bottom line 10 years ago (and still today to some), and now firms such as CSS are devoted exclusively to Improving Your Bottom Line by Improving Your Customer Service.

Time changes aspects of how we serve and who we serve. So the skills you have today – even if they’re a great fit for your company and customers – aren’t necessarily the skills needed tomorrow.

In order to continuously improve, therefore, we have to continuously learn.

That begs the question: How do you learn?

Here are several key practices to put in place to continuously learn:

  • Identify Stars – Which of your co-workers is best in a certain aspect of what you do? Who has knowledge above others? Find the stars and ask how they are so good and how they stay at the top in performance, skills, or knowledge. If you don’t have someone like that in your organization, find tips, podcasts, or other resources from customer service experts that keep you leading edge.
  • Look at Your Past – What have you done previously that led to success? The saying “those that don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” was focused on failures of the past. But SUCCESS in the past does not guarantee repeat success. What did you do that satisfied that customer, resolved that issue, or retained that client business? Document the “why” behind that success to remember how to replicate it.
  • Debate – Teams make better decisions when there is healthy conflict. They hash out perspectives, uncover ideas, and refine them under the pressure and questioning of debate. For you to tap into healthy conflict in a unique way to learn, identify some topics or types of customers that are challenging. Then talk with co-workers about different approaches for those situations, debating ideas and coming to a consensus on possible best practices. Debate your way to better performance.
  • Measure Yourself – Learn from whatever metrics are important to you, your customer, and your company. Know what truly impacts those measures. Too often people think that hard work alone drives performance, but oftentimes knowing what you do well and focusing your energies on Strengthening Your Strength and avoiding situations where you’re not so skilled is what really moves the needle.
  • Value Complaints – Our first reaction to complaints is often defensiveness, but in the midst of these complaining customers are sometimes nuggets. What can we learn from their complaint, or what drove the complaint, or what you tried to do to resolve it that didn’t calm them down or didn’t work? A complaint can be a gift.
  • Ask Your Customers – What do they think of you, your process, your performance. Ask “How was the experience for you today?” or “Is there anything I could have done better or different in helping you today?” or “Is this the experience you were hoping for today?”
  • Ask Your Clients – I know this sounds like the previous practice, but here I’m defining “client” as a long-term client who knows you fairly well professionally. State “I’m always looking for ways to improve, so I was wondering if you could offer me a little feedback – maybe one thing I do really well and one thing I could do better in some way.”

You may be great today, but remember that tomorrow is another day. Put practices in place to help you stay on the top of your game.

Hone your learning skills.

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