process improvement

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

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

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change – 4/20/21

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

There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal lives.  We could have the challenges of dealing with mean or angry individuals at work.  It could be the challenge of trying to support a customer but not getting the support of your co-worker.  The challenges could be inconsistent communications or ineffective systems and processes.  Maybe our challenge is due to our own personal burdens or biases or lack of professional development.

We have these challenges, but to overcome them or push them aside or deal with them, people have to take some action:

  • You’re dealing with essentially the same complaints from customers in your office every day. What can you do to reduce the number of those complaints that you have to deal with each day?
  • You’ve been given bad directions to a customer’s home 4 times this week – it wasted your time! What can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen 4 times next week?
  • You deal with an issue where you’re just not comfortable or confident. What can you do to become more comfortable and more confident?
  • The system is not intuitive for you. It takes you much longer to accomplish your work than it should.  What can you do to become more proficient?
  • The frustration of that angry customer gets to you. You get flustered and you get defensive, and the next thing you know you’re in a 10-minute conversation that never seems to go anywhere.  What can you do to manage your own emotions better?

We’re always going to have challenges.  We are human, and the people we work with are human, as well.  The systems that we work with are FAR from perfect, too!

Identify 1 or 2 of the challenges that cause you heartburn.  Then determine 1 or 2 actions you can take so that these situations happen less frequently or you’re more effective at dealing with them in the future.

Challenges create opportunity.  Be one of the people that creates change.

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Question Everything, but What’s the Question? – 3/23/21

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

The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work?

Sometimes it’s a great management initiative because it forces us to question the validity in doing things in the future a certain way just because we’ve done them that way in the past.  It can be a beneficial leadership tactic because it gets the organization thinking in a continuous improvement mindset.

But when it comes to customer service, what’s the question?  That depends on our goal.  If we’re an organization that is focused on delighting the customer or wowing the customer or amazing the customer or creating a Disney-like experience, you would ask:  Are employees focused on delighting the customer when they are greeted?  Does our speed of service make the customer go WOW?  Is the physical environment where the service is delivered creating an amazing feel for the experience?

Let’s say your goal is to keep every customer.  Then you would ask:  Are we personalizing every communication with our customer?  Are we proactively touching base with every customer to have an ongoing sense of their feelings about us?  Are we asking enough questions to truly understand why they would stay, why they would go?  Are we asking the right questions to truly understand their needs so we can specifically match up our resources with their needs?

What if your goal is simply to deliver a consistent, accurate, and timely service experience?  First of all, “simply” is probably not the best word to use.  Creating an experience that is consistent, accurate, and timely is anything but simple.  But let’s discuss what questions you would ask:  How are we ensuring that – no matter who delivers a service – it is done in the same manner?  How do we ensure and track accuracy?  How do we define “timely” or have a customer define timely, and how are we meeting the timeliness goal?

To be continuous improvement-oriented, to try to foster positive change, consider questioning everything.  But before you start questioning, first understand what your goal is as an organization, and let that drive what you ask.

Question everything, but first know what’s the question.

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

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

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 or days or sometimes weeks of training so that the employees can do their work consistently and effectively.

Customers of our companies typically go through no training.  There are no half-day workshops to learn how to lodge a complaint or request a refund or ask a clarifying question or check on a status.

Customers are not and should not be expected to be experts in our business.  Customers want EASY – Easy to find, easy to access, easy to understand, easy to use.

But Easy is difficult.

I once worked for an administrator in a hospital, and I noted how in certain aspects of operations, we needed to simplify some processes – make it easier on employees to deliver consistently high-quality service.  The administrator responded that his peers don’t think Easy is challenging. I replied:

Making something easy is actually one of the most difficult things you can do in business.

It’s not difficult to have a new procedure or policy, a new function or feature, and just add it on top of what currently exists.  It’s not difficult to just add 5 pages at the back of the standard operations manual.  It’s not difficult to just let incremental complexity grow on a day-by-day and year-by-year basis.

What is difficult is taking a step back, seeing everything through the lens of a customer or an employee, and trying to make it as easy as possible for the employee to deliver great service, or as easy as possible for the customer to have a great experience.

If your organization wants a challenge that will benefit your customer, take on the challenge of Easy.  Find ways to make it easier on the customer to find you or your service offerings.  Make it easier for them to access the information and the solutions they need.  Make the information as easy to understand as possible.  And once they are accessing that product or service, make it as easy as possible to use.

If you need a challenge for the new year, try to make it Easy on the customer.

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