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

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

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


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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Dealing with the Treasure Hunter – 1/10/17

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The customer is asking you question after question after question. They’re engaged and pleasant, but they’re turning what’s normally a 30 second quick talk into a 3-minute conversation.

It’s easy to get impatient with these customers because they’re taking up more of your time than normal. It’s easy to get frustrated because they’re firing question after question at you, and you have TONS of other work to do, so many other customers to serve.

What’s going on?

You’re dealing with the Process Customer. They want details. They want realistic expectations. They want the treasure map to their desired pot of gold.

To deal with these customers most effectively, consider them to be like a Treasure Hunter. They want the map. They want the clues. They want to know the potential pitfalls to avoid and the clearest path to take. It’s all about getting to the treasure, and they don’t want you to tell them just the next step. They want the map – with all its clues and paths and steps detailed.

Handle them this way. Tell them your understanding of their goal. Note the next steps, who will do what and by when. Give them a (process) map or a checklist of ALL the steps. Then confirm they understand the plan before you wrap up the conversation.

With these Treasure Hunters, you also have to be conscientious about telling them when steps have been accomplished, when action has occurred, when roadblocks have been encountered and overcome – in other words, be proactive with status updates.

So why are we handling these Treasure Hunters in this manner? Because the more you build their expectations with clarity and the more you build their comfort, then the more you’ll build their confidence.

And the more clear, comfortable, and confident they are, the less they’ll be contacting you and your co-workers repeatedly for updates, with questions, and with concerns.

When encountering a Process Customer, treat them like a Treasure Hunter.

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