motivation

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

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Choose Positivity – 1/2/18

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


I had the opportunity to conduct employee focus groups and facilitate staff conversations for two different clients recently, and there was a common theme among all the groups. It’s intuitive, it’s understandable, but I was still surprised to hear the sentiment.

Employees consistently said they wanted to work in a more positive environment. Most of us would think that it’s intuitive that that’s what employees desire. Most would think it’s understandable that staff would share those perspectives. But I was somewhat surprised to hear it. Why?

Because, I sometimes have trouble understanding why people or organizations would consistently be negative, or why they would avoid sharing positives, or why their only form of motivation was criticism.

When people work 40 hours, 60+ hours a week, would they prefer to spend those 8/10/12 hours a day around others who are positive or negative? Would they prefer to be in an environment where they are appreciated? Would they prefer to have a reward for a great job or only punishment for a bad job?

I know that many are motivated to avoid the negative, or to avoid punishment, or not to get marked down or written up. But when you think of a healthy work environment, one where people’s values align to those of the organization, one where people WANT to go above and beyond – you are envisioning more positive organizations.

This is not a Tip just for managers; this is a Tip for you and me – everybody. People want positive reinforcement more than negative. They want optimism more than pessimism. They want “Let’s hope it works” rather than “I doubt it will.”

I’m not saying that we ignore the bad or should all be Pollyannas. What I am saying is that we have a choice in how we respond. We have a choice on what outlook we’ll take about a situation. We have a choice about how we engage others. We have a choice about whether we convey appreciation or just think it. And we have a choice about whether we look for ways to build up a co-worker or team, or we only look for ways to criticize.

When you make a choice, choose positivity.

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23 Thanks – 11/21/17

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


People want to be thanked – they want you to show them that they’re appreciated and valued. In employee climate surveys, one of the key drivers of overall satisfaction and retention is whether the employee feels valued, appreciated. For customers, they want value out of the product and experience your company provides. But they also want to feel valued and appreciated themselves.

So, in appreciation of employees and customers everywhere and in honor of the American holiday of Thanksgiving that is celebrated this week on the 23rd of November, here are 23 ways to say Thanks!

  1. Send a handwritten note of thanks to a co-worker or customer.
  2. Send an e-mail full of specific appreciation to a co-worker, and possibly copy their supervisor.
  3. Call up the customer just to thank them for their business.
  4. Ask if you can meet with a co-worker for a minute or two, and then just go to them and thank them for something specifically they did for you recently.
  5. At the start of a meeting, thank everyone for attending and for their commitment to the project, the team, the organization, the customers, etc.
  6. At the end of a meeting, thank everyone for their focus, attention, ideas, and insights.
  7. Have a “culture moment” at the start of the Agenda for each meeting where you spend a minute or two noting how one of the group did something to support the team, improve the work environment, or build up a co-worker.
  8. Post something positive on social media to your followers about a co-worker, using their handle so they see the recognition.
  9. Post a positive note on your intranet about a co-worker and how they helped you recently.
  10. When some shares an idea or concern, before you respond, thank them for what they shared.
  11. When people have been holding on the phone, before you ask them a question (or answer theirs) first thank them for their patience.
  12. When a co-worker shares something (e.g., food in the breakroom, helpful information about a change in policy, etc.), seek them and thank them immediately.
  13. When a customer points something out that was confusing about their experience or that could have been improved, thank them for the feedback.
  14. When the customer thanks you for something, thank them for the thanks – really!
  15. When you know someone is out of the office, leave a message on their voice mail just thanking them for how they make your company or department a more enjoyable place to work.
  16. Text a co-worker some positive words of appreciation or emojis for something they specifically did for you or others.
  17. For long-term customers, send them a coupon or other unsolicited small gift as a thank you for their long-term commitment.
  18. For new customers, provide them with a personal note (on letterhead or a company branded card) that thanks them for the trust they’ve put in you or your company.
  19. When you have some 1-on-1 time with your boss, thank them for their positive style of leadership or whatever other positive attributes they share.
  20. Print a certificate of “Thanks” and have all department or team members sign it – then give it to your co-worker or customer.
  21. No matter what method you use to say thanks, tell them how their action or their attitude impacts you.
  22. Tell them why their action or attitude is important.
  23. Tell them how their action or attitude isn’t common – how it’s unique/special.

Give others thanks – 23 thanks.

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Don’t Multiply Your Troubles – 1/31/17

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What could go wrong? I need to figure that out so I can be prepared to respond in the right way. I need to anticipate the issues that could arise so that I’m prepared for them. After all, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. What are all the roadblocks that I could encounter? I must know them so that I can plan to overcome or avoid them.

While these are good planning-oriented statements, true in life and business, there’s a slippery slope that we must avoid – for our mental health if for no other reason.

Thinking ahead, understanding the worst that can happen, anticipating the issues that could arise – these may all be good things. But keep in mind that – even with the best planning and best intentions – bad things will happen. People will still be upset. Co-workers will still drop the ball. Issues will arise.

We can’t try to be such good planners and anticipators that we not only have to deal with the inevitable issues that will come up today, but we also continuously think of the issues that could happen tomorrow. Imagine our minds being occupied by today’s complaint, and once that’s done we worry about tomorrow’s complaint. We’re dealing with a co-worker’s lack of quality today that ticked off a client; then later we’re worried about the potential for that to happen tomorrow.

With this approach, we’re essentially multiplying our troubles. Adding to the real, tangible issues of today with the “what if” potential issues of tomorrow.

Yes, plan for the future and anticipate how to respond when bad things happen so you’re more prepared for those times when they do arise.

But don’t let the possibility of issues consume your mind. Better service, better days come from a healthier mindset – one where we’re optimistic about tomorrow; we’re hopeful about the future; we envision success.

Yes, plan for what could happen in the future; but avoid occupying your mind with negative “what ifs.”

Don’t multiply your troubles.

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