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

The Wedding Crasher – 7/19/16 TOW

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In theory, the wedding photographer is invited, stays on the periphery, gets the candid shots, and takes excellent wedding party/posed pictures as well. That is what Mary experienced at her wedding – the photographer visited the site of the wedding and reception beforehand, met with the bride-to-be, discussed plans, timing, and locations. She scoped out photography angles, lighting characteristics, and got a sense for the theme and colors of the wedding. The wedding was beautiful, and everything was captured wonderfully by the photographer.

Mary’s sister Maggie had a different wedding photographer – this individual spoke to Maggie on the phone a couple times before the wedding and “didn’t have time” the week of the wedding to scope out the locations and plans with Maggie. Instead, he visited the wedding and reception sites a couple weeks earlier on his own.

On the day of the wedding he showed up – just 15 minutes before the ceremony – wearing his bright red shirt and tie – which stuck out like a sore thumb with the earth tones and white colors of the wedding. He continually moved during the ceremony to get the right shot – often distracting those in attendance, and he took way too many pictures – at least it appeared that way because of how much he was in the middle of all the activity.

He was as much of a wedding crasher as he was a wedding photographer.

When the pictures came back, there were several good, but too many were posed, too many had lighting issues, certain features of the reception location were missed, too many relatives and friends were not included, and – therefore – Maggie thought his fees seemed too high.

Sometimes the best experiences are made that way by talking to the customer first – what do they want, what do they expect, and how do they define success? Sometimes your planning process helps you paint a prettier picture with your product.

Don’t simply deliver a product. Engage the customer beforehand to see the desired experience through their eyes.

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Use I.E. to Relieve Your Burdens – 5/10/16 TOW

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Some of the consulting we perform with clients focuses on ways to be more efficient and to improve quality. Customer service isn’t just about employee attitudes and skills; often customer service is just as much about the processes related to delivering services, responding to needs, and addressing issues.

This type of consulting is part quality improvement, part Kaizen, and part good old fashioned Industrial Engineering (I.E.). So let’s discuss how to apply some of the key principles to the work of an individual – You!

Here are 5 of the 7 Categories of Waste (taken from key lean manufacturing principles) for you to consider. Address these, and maybe your workload decreases, the workflow smooths, and your daily burdens are easier to bear:

  • Storage – Find old files (on your computer, in binders, or stuck in those manila folders in your desk), and identify older ones that no longer serve a purpose. Get rid of old files, and put a system in place to purge those periodically so you avoid a never-ending growth of documents.
  • Overproduction – In what situations do you produce too many copies of items that go unused? When do you copy more people on e-mails than necessary? When are you copied unnecessarily on e-mails or are sent internal documents that are not needed in hardcopy form? Identify answers to these questions, and look for opportunities to reduce the overproduction.
  • Transportation – When do you have to physically change locations – to copy, to meet, to acquire materials or distribute information? Become more productive by finding ways to spend less time simply transporting from Point A to Point B.
  • Waiting – When are you idle? Okay – maybe never. But when can you not go on to the next steps because you’re waiting on a co-worker, a customer, a process, or a system to do its thing? This wastes your time, and it also causes you to have even more projects or initiatives underway at once – that creates more plates for you to keep spinning at the same time. Identify the waits, and find ways to eliminate them.
  • Correction – When do you have to correct the work of others – or vise-versa? When you do have to fight customer fires caused by the wrong information, wrong product, or wrong response being delivered? These issues waste your time and often the time of your customer. Use these questions to identify these causes of costly poor quality.

 
You probably are getting the hang of this exercise now. The final 2 Categories of Waste are Motion and Processing. Apply this approach to the other 2 Categories, coming up with questions and the answers that highlight time wasters.

Then – as with the others – use the answers to begin moving toward solutions to reduce your hassles and save yourself time.

Eliminate the waste, and make your days just a little bit better.

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A Blockbuster of a Mess – 5/3/16 TOW

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It was vacation time at the beach – and it was pouring rain. With no beach time possible and with the unappetizing thought of spending all day long inside with a condo full of teenagers, Jacob decided to find something to do. So with teenagers in tow, Jacob took the kids to the movies.

They went to the nearest theater – the first time they had been there – and what started out as a great idea for a 2-3 hour diversion became a good decision gone bad.

Now keep in mind, it’s a Saturday afternoon and it’s pouring, so that’s a good indication to theater management that it’s going to be busy; a blockbuster was opening that weekend – again, it’s going to be busy. So Jacob and his crew arrived at the theater about 30 minutes early, waiting in the rain for 15 minutes – got up to the ticket window and were told – it JUST SOLD OUT. Ugh.

Good news! Next show is in 30 minutes. So they bought the tickets and went inside, but they and eventually about 80-100 other people were waiting behind a rope. Although there were 4 concession areas, there was only 1 open; the other 3 were closed, and the staff wouldn’t let customers buy any concessions or wander around the rest of the lobby until the other movies started. So 80-100 wet people were cramped behind a rope and against the wall together until the next show was about to start.

The lessons were many.

The forecast had said rain for days. The theater knew of the blockbuster opening for weeks. Staffing could have increased to open other concessions. They could have modified the rope lines and setup to allow people access to more of the lobby so they weren’t so cramped. They could have said “I’m sorry” at least once or twice. But none of this happened.

No anticipation – of high demand on Saturday.
No adjustments – to staffing or customer access/flow.
No acknowledgement – of the issues.
No apologies – by staff.

Look ahead to Anticipate and Adjust. And when that doesn’t work, Acknowledge and Apologize.

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