listen

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

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

A Lesson in Gratitude – 11/24/20

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

Mr. Robinson went to the hardware store with his teenaged son, Steve.  Steve was starting his first woodworking project – building a small coffee table – and needed supplies.  As they walked the aisles, Mr. Robinson and Steve couldn’t find the exact type of wood they wanted, so Mr. Robinson suggested that Steve ask an employee for help.  Steve found an employee walking by, asked for help, and got what he needed.

After the employee walked away, Mr. Robinson told Steve:  You did a good job talking with that gentleman.  Next time, though, thank the employee.

Steve:  Why should I thank the employee for doing his job?

The dad’s temperature started to rise.  It rose because this was his son talking, and why Steve was basically stating a truth, Mr. Robinson felt Steve was missing the bigger picture.

Mr. Robinson:  You thank them because they helped you, because we didn’t waste the next 30 minutes walking up and down every aisle, looking at every bin.  You thank them because – whether they were being paid or not – you show appreciation for others.

This was a teachable moment in the dad’s eyes.  You appreciate others.  Gratitude is not a light switch you just turn on when you’re an employee getting paid to answer a customer’s question, and otherwise turn it off.  Gratitude is an all-the-time thing, whether you’re an employee or a customer.

Mr. Robinson:  People have choices – whether to serve you or not, whether to do it with a good attitude or not, whether to listen to you and ask questions…or not.  You have a choice, too.  And I want you to see the importance of choosing to tell other people thanks.

Let’s make gratitude an all-the-time thing.

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Why Your Job is Important – 11/17/20

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

I was speaking with a client recently, and she was telling me about one of the classes delivered by their professional development team. Her description of the course reminded me of some client workshops we’ve conducted where a part of the outcome is having individual staff develop Personal Mission Statements. These Statements essentially describe the greater good that employees provide through their work – the benefit to customers, community, company, or co-workers.  Beyond all the tasks and responsibilities, this describes that bigger purpose.

The course that my client had taken had a slightly different take on this concept.  Instead of talking about the greater good people do through their job, essentially the course helped employees to answer the question “Why is my job important?”

This is an important question for every employee to answer, and it’s not a question you would answer to be boastful about yourself.  It’s a question to answer so that we truly realize the value that we provide.  Asking a “Why?” question is tough.  It forces you to think about the reasons the role exists, the ultimate benefits, and the responsibilities asked of you.

It’s important because sometimes the tasks can seem mundane and repetitive.  Sometimes our motivational level just isn’t there.  Sometimes we need a refresher on how vital we are to our organizations.

So, ask yourself this question:  Why is my job important? Or maybe you want to rephrase it to say:  Why is it important that I perform this work?  Why is it important that I do a great job?  What would be the ramifications if this work was never done or was done poorly?  What would be the ramifications if I wasn’t the one making sure the needs fulfilled through my job were addressed?

Give yourself a little motivation by understanding how vital you and your responsibilities are, as well.

Uncover and clearly understand why your job is important.

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Listen Even When Nobody’s Speaking – 11/10/20

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

Online Chats are wonderful ways to provide customer service, except when they’re not wonderful ways to provide customer service.  Note the partial chat transcript below.  The company name has been replaced with STORE, and the location was changed to TOWN:

  • STORE Bot at 9:54: Thank you. An agent will be with you shortly to start your chat.
  • STORE Bot at 9:56: Mary T. has joined the conversation.
  • Customer at 9:56: Hi there. I visited the TOWN STORE last night for this product: EMSCO GROUP 20-in W x 24-in L x 10-in H Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Item #48620 Model #2345D
  • Mary T. at 9:57: Hello there! My name is Mary. I will be happy to assist you today!
  • Customer at 9:57: Hi. Their inventory system said they had 8 in stock, but the employee looked for 25 minutes and only found 1 – it was used. If I order it off the website for pickup at STORE, how do I make sure I get a new one, and by when would it be available?
  • Mary T. at 10:00: My apologies for the inconvenience. If on the website there is availability for being shipped it means that we have it available on the warehouse. You can ship it for free to the store the desired items.
  • Customer at 10:01: Thanks. If I order today, by when would it be ready at STORE? Also, how/when will they notify me that it’s ready for pickup?
  • Mary T. at 10:03: Thank you for waiting. I’ll be with you in just a moment.
  • Customer at 10:04: ok
  • Mary T. at 10:05: Yes! You will be receiving a notification when it is available by email.
  • Customer at 10:05: If I order today, by when would it be ready at STORE? I’d like to get it by Mother’s Day – that’s why I ask.
  • Mary T. at 10:06: May I have the item number so I can check?
  • Mary T. at 10:07: May I please have your Zip code?
  • Customer at 10:07: EMSCO GROUP 20-in W x 24-in L x 10-in H Earth Brown Resin Raised Garden Bed Item #48620 Model #2345D
  • Customer at 10:08: ZIP CODE – The TOWN Store I noted earlier is my store
  • Mary T. at 10:09: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
  • Mary T. at 10:11: Yes! We have availability for pick up today at TOWN STORE
  • Customer at 10:13: I’m confused. I was there last night, and they didn’t have any in stock. Just to clarify (since they had issues finding it in the store even though it said there were 8 in inventory like I mentioned above), does that mean it can be delivered from a warehouse, or are you just seeing it in in-store inventory?
  • Mary T. at 10:15: I’ll be right with you.
  • Mary T. at 10:17: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.
  • Mary T. at 10:19: We have 5 available at OTHER TOWN STORE, please call at (888) 555-1212 to check availability.
  • Customer at 10:22: My focus was ensuring it was in the TOWN Store for pickup; I was trying to do a chat instead of calling to several stores myself and running into the same issue I had last night.

This was my experience.  I had to give the product model twice, store location twice, repeat the request twice, ask by when it would be ready more than twice, and then was told I needed to call a different store to determine availability.  Neither of us was – literally – speaking, and yet I didn’t feel she was listening to me.

When delivering chat-based customer service, or even e-mail customer service responses, ensure you thoroughly confirm what information the customer has conveyed and what request they’ve shared, so you address the need right the first time.

Ensure you listen, even when nobody’s speaking.

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