process

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

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity – 8/6/19

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

Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer.

When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like I’ve completed a process, when in reality I’ve only gotten through the first step. I hate coming to the end of the first step and finding that there’s a second step, getting to the end of the second step, and only then finding that there’s a third step. It would be so much better to just know all the steps, the entire timeframe, and what I need to do from the start to make all these steps go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Again, I’m talking from the perspective of the customer. Whether it is talking to account representative about some new service or talking to the computer tech helping me deal with a blinking computer screen, I like to know the steps.

In these situations, I am asking a lot of questions, and things I appreciate most about a person are (1) The specific responses conveyed with knowledge and experience as well as (2) Patience.

Customer Frustrations
It bothers me to no end when I feel like the person is rushing through the conversation. It’s frustrating when they’re making the process sound like it’s not that big a deal; it probably isn’t a big deal to them since they’ve dealt with it 100 times, but it is a big deal to me, the customer. It’s frustrating when they talk fast or make statements unrelated to my need because they didn’t ask questions about what’s unique about my situation.

Avoiding their Frustrations
So, what is not frustrating? What is positive? Knowledge and experience conveyed in specific responses…and patience. When you’re dealing with somebody who’s about to go through a series of steps, convey these attributes.

Be patient. Think about your body language. Avoid interrupting. Breathe a few times to slow yourself down. Ask them questions to understand their situation so you don’t have to talk about the 5 different paths something might take if it’s obvious this process is going to go down 1 path for this 1 unique customer’s 1 situation.

Let your patience result in a positive customer experience.

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Are you the Output or the Input? – 6/25/19

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

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 them to us. We received the output. They complete a form, and they routed it to us. They have a complaint, and they send it to us. They make a sale, and they give the account to us. In this part of the process, we receive the output.

But we also provide the input. We take that difficult customer and sometimes escalate them to another person or area. We take that client, and we refer them to a premium services division for upselling. We work through our part of the process, and we hand off the information to the person managing the next step.

So, we receive the output, and we provide the input. As part of the process, we definitely benefit by making the process better. When we receive output that has questions or quality concerns or is not timely, particularly when this happens with some regularity, we can improve the process by professionally pointing out the problems; when we point out the problems, we should try to suggest solutions as well.

In terms of us playing the input role, we should seek the same information just recommended for you to provide to others. Contact co-workers who receive our input, and ask about our timeliness, quality, and completeness. Ask them what works well. Ask them for solutions to concerns.

If we want to deliver great customer service, we need to understand our role in the process.

Be of value to your teammates – whether you receive the output or provide the input.

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Retrain Your Brain – 2/26/19

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


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought:

Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using their phone? Is this customer crazy? I’ve told them 3 times what they need to do to buy this ticket, and they still can’t figure it out!

Sometimes our customers seem crazy. Sometimes they don’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes what they do or don’t do makes little sense to us. But the reason why we feel that way is often based on looking at things through our lens instead of their lens. Maybe it’s our hundreds and hundreds of similar experiences with similar customers that can leave us jaded, with a negative perspective of our customers.

To deliver a positive customer service experience, we need to have a positive mindset of our customers. But how do we reframe our mental picture of the customer? How do we retrain our brains to look at them and their situations differently?

Creating a Positive Habit
If it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, then we’re going to give you some intentional questions to ask yourself day after day if you find yourself rolling your eyes about your customers or viewing them in a negative light:

  • Instead of focusing on what the customer did wrong, ask yourself: What did the customer do right?
  • Instead of thinking a process is so simple, ask yourself: Was this a piece of cake the first time it was explained to me?
  • Instead of getting frustrated for having to explain steps multiple times, stop and ask yourself: Can the customer explain this to me? By asking the customer to walk you through the steps this time, you can figure out what they understand and what they don’t understand.

 

These are the 3 questions to ask yourself when you feel that frustration boiling or those eyes rolling: What did the customer do right? Was this a piece of cake the first time it was explained to me? Can the customer explain this to me?

What you’re doing with these 3 simple questions is you’re (1) Thinking about something positive the customer has done (2) Trying to be a little empathetic, and (3) Better understanding your customer by becoming more of a listener, less of a talker.

Retrain your brain to reframe your picture of your customers.

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