process

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


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 Read more

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition – 2/12/19

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I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a financial advisor to arrange a meeting with a customer, the teller notes how his co-worker has helped many other customers with a similar need. When the pro sports sales representative hands off a new account to their service specialist, he notes how responsive the service rep is to his clients.

While these are all great examples on how to build up a co-worker in the mind of a customer, it’s even more important at times to have that same positive talk about the customer themselves.

Customers want to feel valued, like their purchase decisions and their dollars are important to the organization. Even more than that, they want to feel like they themselves are important to you and your company. You obviously can do that by providing great customer service. You can also do that by finding ways to tell them how much you value them. Everything I’m about to suggest obviously needs to be done with sincerity, so don’t say it if you don’t believe it:

  • Let the customer know when they’ve asked a great question.
  • Tell them when you agree with the option they selected.
  • Convey appreciation for bringing an issue to your attention so that other customers won’t have to face the same issue.
  • Thank them for coming all the way into your office to chat with you.
  • Thank them for their time and their patience.
  • Ask them for their ideas and their guidance, and then give them credit when you think one of those great ideas will work.
  • When they fill out the paperwork correctly, let them know they did a great job.
  • When they give you thorough answers, let them know you appreciate all the detailed information.
  • When they answer your series of questions to give you the information you need to address their need, thank them for all the responses.

 

Your customers are part of the service process. Their effective and complete participation is valuable to you. Let them know when and how they provide value to the process so that they feel valued by you.

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition.

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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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