mystery shop

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve – 11/27/18

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


It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view.

Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may involve a review from some reputable online publication. More often, I seek out reviews from fellow customers, and I put a TON of weight into their opinions. Even though the seller may offer specs on the product and glowing descriptions, the words of customers who purchased the item mean more.

They tend to tell you about the ordering and shipping experiences. They tell you how the assembly went, what they like and dislike, what works and what doesn’t, and what type of support they receive if there’s a question/issue/return involved. It helps me to make an informed decision.

Now, what it should also do is to help the seller improve the product or the buying process or the support process.

Think about seeing the buying experience, the “setup-for-use” experience, the product benefits/drawbacks, and the support experience all through the customer’s eyes! It’s like mystery shopping without having to mystery shop. It’s real-time information from real people about real experiences.

If you want to know how to improve yourself, your service, your organization, or your product, look for sources of customer input that already exist (and create those that don’t). Review the input; determine the common threads; find opportunities to recognize others, and find opportunities to get better.

Use customer comments to continuously improve.

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Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate – 10/18/16

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


One of the greatest skills someone in customer service can develop is the ability to ask questions – the right questions in the right way at the right time for the right purpose.

Asking questions allows you to control conversations, stay productive, learn a great deal, establish rapport, make the other person feel important, and get you what you need to help the customer.

As a part of a mystery shopping engagement with a client, we have recently run into two different employee examples of asking questions.

Rita is excellent. She knows the questions she has to walk through, but prior to asking the caller the questions to uncover their true need, she stated “Is it OK if I ask you some questions? I just want to get a better idea of how we can help you.” Then she moved into her questions, occasionally doing follow-up to what the caller had said. Rita came off to the caller in a positive manner – inquisitive, caring, patient, and helpful.

Bill wasn’t so great. After hearing an opening statement from the caller, he started asking question after question, never following up to what the caller stated. Never stating “that’s helpful” or “interesting point.” The questions always followed his script, and the conversation didn’t flow. If sounded more like a tennis match with a grunt with each swing of the racket than a flowing conversation. Bill came across as impatient – like he was interrogating the caller.

It’s great to ask questions of the customer – that’s how you learn; that’s how you understand the specific situation to better provide the specific answer or solution or product. But set up the questions with a statement of what you’re about to do and why; then let the questions flow as part of the conversation.

Make this skill a true strength for you and a positive experience for your customer.

Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate.

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Tell Them the MOST Important Point – 8/16/16

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


I’m wordy. Brevity isn’t my gift. In high school, some of my sports teammates called me The Rambling Man.

I was once in a meeting at a hospital with a COO who asked my opinion on an important decision they were to make. I waxed eloquently about the pros and cons of each option, offering very sound, salient points. After a couple minutes of my wisdom, the COO responded “Therefore?”

“Oh!” I replied. “We should go with Option A.”

What the COO really wanted was my “Therefore,” but I was more focused on all the rationale that led up to my recommendation.

When you’re dealing with a customer, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of providing so much background or detail in a situation that we forget to emphasize (or even say) WHY all that information is important and what specifically should be done.

Here’s another example: When we conduct mystery shopping engagements for clients, sometimes the shop consultants will ask the employee a question about a need or issue, and the employee rambles through 37 potential services without ever recommending something specific based on the specific customer’s need.

All these points (am I rambling again?) come down to the main point. Before you respond to the customer, ask yourself “What is the most important thing I could tell them?” or “What do THEY care about most?” or “What do I suggest happen in this situation?”

Ask yourself the key question to ensure you give them clearly, specifically, and succinctly what they need.

Remove the Rambling. Tell them the MOST Important Point.

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