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

Cut Time in Half to Double the Customer Satisfaction – 7/26/16

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


At a speech I once gave to a local business association, one of the members offered a customer service horror story. He called a local physician practice and wanted to speak with his doctor. They put him on hold, and he waited through several rings. His wife told him to hang up the phone, but he decided to count rings. Finally, 187 rings later, someone answered the phone.

As a customer in any business, I want to get a person on the phone as quickly as possible. I want to pay for an item as quickly as possible. I want to fill out as few papers as necessary to complete a transaction. Consider the following aspects of customer interactions with your business. Make an effort to cut each of the following in half:

  1. The number of computer screen flips to enter a transaction – Simplifies work for the employee and speeds the process.
  2. The number of questions asked to open an account – Simplifies effort to the customer and speeds access to your business.
  3. The number of menus on a phone system – Expedites access to your sales representatives.
  4. The amount of time to take an order – Speeds closure of a transaction.
  5. The length of a proposal or contract – Simplifies decision-making to more quickly close business.
  6. The length of time to reply to a phone call – Shows responsiveness and allows customer to take next action.
  7. The percentage of time that you speak during a customer service call – Helps you learn more about the customer and establish better rapport.

Cut these in half, and watch your customers’ satisfaction levels rise with quicker and easier access to you and your services.

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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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