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

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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A PB&J Customer Service Lesson – 3/27/18

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When my daughter was in elementary school, she had a teacher who gave the kids an assignment – write instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Simple enough, right?

When the assignment was turned in, the teacher stood at her desk, pulled out a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a jar of jelly, and she began to read the first student’s instructions out loud – “Put peanut butter on bread.”

So, the teacher put the loaf of bread in the center of her desk, and she slammed the jar of peanut butter on top of it. Some students laughed; others sat in disbelief.

The teacher began to read the second student’s instructions – “Place a slice of bread on a plate, and spread peanut butter on the bread.”

The teacher opened the bag with the loaf of bread, pulled out a slice, took a paper plate off the shelf, and put the slice of bread on the plate (so far, so good!). Then she unscrewed the top of the peanut butter jar, put her hand in, grabbed some peanut butter, and spread it by hand on the slice of bread.

This was met with equal groans of “Ewwww!” and “Gross!”

The teacher was illustrating how the kids need to be thorough in their descriptions/instructions. When explaining what to do or how to do something, we can’t assume that the person reading what we’re writing will make the correct assumptions about what we mean. If we want them to be clear, we need to be specific enough to be understood correctly.

Think about the instructions you give co-workers and customers on how to do a task – how to complete a form, sign-up for a service, submit documentation, provide you with information. If you want it done a specific way, you have to be very specific in providing instructions.

Make sure you get what you want in the form you want it from others. Don’t assume others will interpret general instructions the same way.

Learn from this PB&J Customer Service Lesson.

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Great Customer Service, and the Luge – 2/13/18

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I was watching an event at the Olympics – it was the luge. That’s where crazy people called lugers lay on their back on a sled and fly 80 miles per hour on a sheet of ice – did I mention that they’re CRAZY?!

Actually, it looks like fun. I’d love to give it a shot…only if they wrapped me in bubble wrap and promised I wouldn’t go over 30 miles an hour – I’m not THAT crazy…but I digress.

The lugers make four runs down the track, totaling the times from each run to see who wins. It’s not the best 1 of 4; it’s the best set of combined times.

Back to the event – the final luger was the leader after 3 rounds. He had won the Gold Medal in this event at the previous two Olympics. And on the way down the track during his 4th and final run, he maintained his lead…until he went sideways. It wasn’t a full 180 degree pivot, but it was enough to cost him the race – his last run was so bad that he went from 1st to 5th – no medal for him.

The announcers talked about the importance of consistency in the luge. It’s not about one great run – anyone can do that; but to win the Gold, you have to be consistently great.

Now, how do we build consistency in customer service? How do we make sure the three WOWs we provide aren’t overshadowed by the one stinker of an experience that we offer?

Consistency comes from an ongoing attitude of caring for the other. It comes from practice – what to say, how to respond, how to engage, how to resolve. It comes from identifying those situations that do or could challenge you the most (even if they’re only 5% or 10% of what you encounter) and developing approaches to deal with them.

Consistency comes from creating standards, templates, patterns, methods – and utilizing them over and over again. And consistency comes from doing things in a way that’s consistent with your values – who you want to be with and for others. To sum it up, consistency in performance comes from consistency in actions and attitudes.

Put the tools and habits in place to be great at customer service. Find consistency.

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