process

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

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture – 2/5/19

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Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t mean simply providing detailed instructions line by line. What I do mean is literally seeing a picture.

Many times over the years, I’ve been trying to describe a strategy, process, or some key steps to a client that they need to take to be successful in whatever topic we’re discussing. And at some point, it’s clear that they’re getting part of what I’m suggesting but not all of it. So, I will either take out my computer tablet or a sheet of paper, and I will draw a simple diagram. Then their eyes light up! They understand the concept, and they often ask if they can keep that piece of paper or ask if I can send them a softcopy of what I wrote on my computer screen.

For many of us, when we hear hundreds of words mesh together to describe a series of next steps or a process, the words blur. We either lose focus, or there is a particular step or phrase that diverts our concentration. To avoid this when working with customers, we need to move those hundreds of steps to a simple graphic of 3-5 connected boxes. It simplifies it for those of us who are visual.

Take a Picture to Jog their Memory
Just as in the example that I shared where they asked to keep my sheet of paper, think about your pre-printed documents – maybe it’s the procedures on a wall poster. Maybe it is a hardcopy document that you were viewing with the customer about a contract, a policy, an agreement, or a process. Don’t expect people to remember what we say no matter how wonderfully we explain it.

Have them take a picture of it with their phone or give them a QR code so that they can go to the exact URL using their phone camera. Make sure that this visual representation that you provided to them is something that they can take with them to remember and refer back to in the future.

When having a conversation with a customer, gauge how well they’re understanding what you’re conveying.

When needed, paint a picture, and – so they remember – let them take a picture.

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Retain through Responsiveness – 1/15/19

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In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. She didn’t report the issue on any social media site. She didn’t yell at the employees she contacted. She simply took her business elsewhere.

She said “You have to make customers as happy as you can because there are so many options out there. What’s going to stop them from going somewhere else?”

That’s a great question! What could keep your customers from going elsewhere? The short answer is “nothing,” but that’s not necessarily the accurate answer.

By saying that there’s nothing you can do, you’re effectively saying that you have no control over those things that impact the customer’s decision. And that’s just not true. In the vast majority of cases, you and your organization have strong abilities to influence those factors that impact the customer’s decision to stay or to go.

In this case, the customer left because the company was not responsive. They were difficult to get in touch with online. When she switched from the online attempts at customer service to the telephone attempts, it was not a smooth transition. The lack of responsiveness in rectifying her issue pushed her away.

Many of those things are within your control or at least within the company’s control. You and your organization are the ones who identify the process of investigating issues. You all are the ones who can offer some kind of compensation or alternative solution. You are the ones that empathize and convey in your tone and your actions that you care about the customer and are truly sorry for the inconvenience and the issue. You and the organization are the ones who help to make this person believe that the issue that happened in the past won’t happen again.

Take ownership over whether your customers decide to stay or decide to leave for a competitor.

Look at your complaint resolution attitudes and actions; observe your service recovery approaches. Look at the speed with which you and others in the organization respond to the problems your internal reporting identify or your external customers conveyed through their complaints.

Retain more customers by more quickly responding to their issues.

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It’s Their First Time – 7/17/18

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You’ve provided this service to hundreds of customers. You’ve dealt with this issue 50 times. You sold this product or held this meeting or done this paperwork or worked through this process so many times you can do it in your sleep. For the customer, however, it’s their first time.

It could literally be their first time buying this product or asking this question or having this issue. Maybe they’ve run into it once or twice before in their lives; regardless, it’s a good mindset for all of us service providers to have that we need to treat the situation like it’s their first time. If this was a brand new customer walking in the door, how would you want to handle this situation differently?

  • You may want to be more patient, because they may have lots of questions.
  • You may need to introduce yourself and tell a little bit about the company, because this may be their first exposure to you or your organization.
  • You may want to start from the beginning about how things work, not making assumptions about what they may already know.
  • You may want to welcome them and be appreciative for their making the decision to invest their time and money in your organization, so they feel like their business is valued.
  • You may be more likely to want to give them handouts or show them specific pages on a website, because they are probably receiving so much information they can’t remember everything only given to them verbally.
  • You may want to confirm they understand what you’re saying, what expectations you’re setting, what it is that you are to do versus they are to do.
  • You might explain what’s going to happen next in the process, because they’ve never experienced your process before today.

 

When you view your encounters through the lens of a new customer – one who is there for the first time – many ideas can pop to mind about how you might handle that situation differently to make sure they are as comfortable and confident as possible with you and your organization.

Do this exercise on your own or include co-workers. Ask “What would we do differently if we knew this was the customer’s first time?” Then start to build your standards for engaging customers, the information you provide and how you provide it, and the time you allocate to customer engagement around what would create the best experience possible for everyone.

View your customer encounters like it’s their first time.

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