ownership

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Developing Fan Relations During COVID-19


As sports teams and organizations across the world are gearing up to start play without fans, these same organizations are also determining what that fan experience is going to be when fans start attending again.  Many sports organizations are focused on locking in revenue from existing fans - keeping Read more

Reduce Their Anxiety Leading Up to Their Return


Building customer comfort and confidence in going to your facilities is a process which has a lot of similarities to the technique we train clients on to reduce customer anxiety.  From a tactical perspective, when you’re interacting with somebody who is anxious or nervous, you want to get them Read more

Moving toward Normalcy: The Face-to-Face Keys - 5/12/20


As we slowly go back to a face-to-face world, here are a few quick reminders for what positively differentiates employees who understand the importance of body language and expressions v. those who don’t. Especially if you’re wearing a mask and serving customers, ensure your eyes are focused on the other Read more

Pivot to a Stronger Post-COVID Culture


If there ever was a time for virtually every organization to assess their culture, this is it.  Culture not only drives customer service, but it also drives long-term organizational success.  While leaders can define the Desired Culture and can chart a Vision, leaders typically do very little of the Read more

5 Steps to Valuing Another’s Time - 5/5/20


Is your time valuable?  Is the customer’s time valuable?  I would think we would answer “yes” to both questions, but what does that really mean?  It’s important, and it’s finite. Time is precious because it doesn’t come in unlimited quantities.  We can’t go to Amazon and buy more time.  It’s Read more

Put Yourself at the Controls of Change - 4/28/20


You have probably heard about manufacturing plants and restaurants who are pivoting during these challenging times and starting to make hand sanitizers, masks, and gowns.  They are being forced to change, and they’re trying to find the opportunities among the obstacles that surround them. Sometimes we, too, as individuals in Read more

Make Sure it’s Not a “YOU Problem” – 8/15/17

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


There’s a TV personality in the sports world that has a phrase that he says frequently – “That’s a YOU Problem.” For example, he might say “If you have a problem with Joe Athlete and don’t respect or like him, then that’s a YOU Problem.” OR he might say, “If you don’t like how Team ABC goes about its business, then that’s a YOU Problem.”

Essentially what he is saying is that no rational person should have a problem with this individual or with this team.

Whether or not we would agree with his assessment, there is an application to his statement for the world of customer service.

Oftentimes, we have a problem when dealing with certain co-workers, certain types of people (Millennials? People in authority positions?), certain customers, certain vendors, or certain personality types. We don’t enjoy interacting with these folks, and it’s because of some problem we have with them.

But before we assume that the issue that we have with them is 100% their fault, it’s sometimes beneficial for us to ask the question that the sports personality asks – “Is that a YOU Problem?” In other words, what biases or preconceived notions or personal preferences or life experiences am I bringing into a conversation that is making the issue happen or at least making it bigger than necessary?

Think of somebody that you don’t get along with well. Think of somebody that you don’t enjoy interacting with during the course of your workday. Now take a step back and simply ask yourself “What is it about me or how I engage with this individual during these encounters that could make the situations unpleasant or ineffective? Is a fully a “Them” problem, or is it somewhat of a “Me” problem?

Maybe in 99% of the cases you are right – there’s something about this other person that is causing these interactions to be negative or poor. But at least take a step back and see if you have a part in the difficulties.

Maybe there’s an opportunity to eliminate the problem you have with this other person if you were more self-aware and changed something yourself.

Make sure it’s not a “YOU Problem.”

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Breaking Down the Infamous 1-on-1 Retention Call – 8/26/14 TOW

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


I referenced the infamous recorded Comcast Retention call in a Tip of the Week on July 22. It’s been such a lightning rod for discussion that we just recorded a podcast addressing some of the key language that the Comcast representative used during the call. Now, we’ve gained access to what’s reported as being the company’s 13-Step Retention Call Approach. Let’s analyze this from the customer’s perspective.

  1. Greet customer clearly – This is good; customers want to know the employee’s name and department to make sure they called the right place.
  2. Clarify reason for call – We always say “Clarify and Confirm” – ask clarifying questions, then confirm your understanding. Customers want the employee showing that they know the reason for calling (and, in this case, canceling their service).
  3. Relate and empathize – Love this – especially the Empathy portion. Customers want to be understood.
  4. Take control – Not sure why this is here; “control” has a power/aggressive connotation. It’s not good to encourage representatives to get aggressive with a typically-upset customer. Customers don’t want to be controlled.
  5. Set the agenda – Again, this conveys aggression, taking over, not focused on listening.
  6. Ask targeted questions – This may be fine, depending on the definition of “Targeted.” We use that word to illustrate questions unique to the customer and their situation. However, the employee asked “targeted” questions such as “Why would you not want the fastest internet?” This is pushy and derogatory at the same time.
  7. Consider unstated needs / active listening – Active Listening is great! However, “unstated needs” is sales terminology. If someone wants to cancel, you’re in Service Recovery territory, not hardcore sales territory.
  8. Take ownership / make offer – These should work well.
  9. Overcome objections – This is fine as long as the customer’s still willing to dialogue about the issue; if they want to avoid the debate, quickly cancel and go to step 12.
  10. Close the save – Change this to “Close the save…or close the account.” In the end, do what the customer wants you to do.
  11. Confirm details – Always confirm next steps before closing.
  12. End on a positive note – Good step.
  13. Documentation – Good step.

Many of the steps are positive, but where they go wrong is that they focus too much on controlling the customer in a hardcore sales manner instead of communicating with a customer in a Service Recovery mindset.

When a customer wants to cancel or end the relationship, feel free to professionally ask for reasons, but remember that you’re delivering customer service, not driving the hard sell. You may retain just as many, and you’ll definitely avoid the horrific word-of-mouth that this call created.

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The Healthcare Customer Service Runaround – 8/19/14 TOW

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


The following is a true story of a customer service runaround…

  1. Nate’s physician suggested that he have a diagnostic procedure.
  2. The hospital called Nate to schedule the procedure; they suggested he get the CPT code (procedure number) since Nate wanted to get an estimate of the procedure charges.
  3. He called his physician office and got the CPT code.
  4. At the direction of the physician office, he called another office (in another town) for an estimate. He okayed the procedure based on the estimate being somewhat reasonable.
  5. Nate had the procedure and received results – all were good!
  6. He received the bill – 60% above the estimate.
  7. He called Billing and talked with Kristin. She said that they billed correctly, but Nate was only given 1 of the 2 CPT codes and was told the wrong estimated price; Kristin told him to talk to the insurance company and have them possibly appeal to the office (which was part of the same company as Billing, which was also the same company as the scheduler, which was also the same company as the estimator).
  8. Insurance said that they may be able to do something if the physician office said that the procedure wasn’t warranted.
  9. The insurance company called the physician office for Nate and left a message at the physician office.
  10. The office called Nate and said the procedure in question was ordered correctly, but they were adamant that they don’t give out CPTs – so they couldn’t help with his issue; they suggested that Nate call Scheduling – maybe they give out CPT codes.
  11. Nate called Scheduling; they said that they don’t give out CPTs; they suggested he call the Estimate department.
  12. Nate called the Estimate department; they said they don’t give out CPTs, but the supervisor would call him the next day because she may have access to information that the front line employee couldn’t access.
  13. Nate called a week later after having received no call back, and he left a message.
  14. The Estimate department called back and said to call Billing.
  15. Nate called Billing, and the lady he spoke with sounded familiar – she was Kristin. She said the physician office wasn’t telling the truth when they said they don’t give out CPTs.

One procedure and fifteen communications. There was no resolution, no ownership, and no accountability. Most of the conversations were with one company and four different departments/offices, but they operated as if they were four separate companies.

In most of the conversations, the individual employees were personable and somewhat helpful – they probably received good evaluations for their actions during the call. But from Nate’s perspective, this was a royal mess.

Don’t assume that one pleasant conversation equates to one happy customer. Ensure the company isn’t giving the customer service runaround.

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