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

Elaine had an Eye for Customer Service – 3/29/16 TOW

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


I don’t know if she realized it, but Elaine was great! The Optometrist Assistant went to the waiting room to call on Rodney, and she smiled as she said his full name. She introduced herself and asked him to follow her to the exam room.

As they entered she said – You get the BIG chair!

She asked about Rodney’s weekend and shared a little about hers as well when he asked. She told Rodney what she was about to do and why – whether it was checking vision or putting drops in his eyes.

They discussed the doctor he had met with months earlier when he was having an issue with floaters, and she raved about the doctor – “a special person…84 years old – been here his entire career…very thorough.”

When she was done with the diagnostics and drops, she conveyed a sense of urgency (but not anxiety) on Rodney’s behalf by pleasantly saying “let me get Dr. Smith in here for you.”

These are snippets from the conversation between Elaine and Rodney, but they illustrate so much that’s great in customer service:

  • Share your name and use their name – This personalizes the conversation
  • Be inquisitive – This conveys your interest and shows you care
  • Build up co-workers in front of customers – This adds credibility to the co-worker and the organization
  • Describe next steps – This reduces worry by making the unknown known
  • Explain “the Why behind the What” – This enables the customer (or patient!) to feel more comfortable with what’s being done; it helps with their buy-in and support.

 
Sometimes little things mean a lot. Learn from this little interaction about how a great customer experience can look.

Develop an eye for great customer service.

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When It’s Definitely Okay to Fail – 2/23/16 TOW

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


Do you ever encourage failure? Do the leaders in your organization say “please fail?”

While rarely – if ever – should failure be the goal, fear of failure can lead to mediocrity. Avoiding the potential for failure can lead to inaction. And in a competitive world, it’s ironic that mediocrity and inaction eventually lead to that same failure that a company (or individual) is trying to avoid.

I heard a basketball coach recently mention that success in the game is built off many failures in the practices. In a business sense, success in serving a customer is often built off trial and error in a company’s “practice sessions.” A successful journey toward a goal often involves healthy conflict and creative ideas tossed aside for even better ideas.

It’s okay to fail in a company’s practice sessions. It’s okay to have healthy conflict and toss good ideas aside for better ideas.

Those failures are what make greater success possible.

What are your company’s practice sessions? Are they role-plays on customer situations? Is it user-testing of a new web portal? Is it piloting a new process or approach to serving customers?

What are your company’s idea-generation sessions? Are they robust enough that there’s conflict and deep, thought-provoking discussion? Are enough ideas being generated that the good can be set aside for the better, and the better tabled in favor of the best?

Identify in what you need to succeed as an organization. Then create opportunities to practice possible situations. Develop and debate ideas to move toward the best solution.

Create opportunities to fail so that you can move closer to success.

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Flip the View of Your Process – 2/24/15 TOW

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The customer complains that they had to go through 6 phone menus, some of which didn’t make any sense, and then they waited 8 minutes to get to an employee who asked for the same account information that the customer just keyed into the phone. The employee wonders why the customer is so upset, after all, the employee had a great tone of voice and read the script perfectly when he answered the phone!

To the employee, the encounter just started, but to the customer, the encounter started 20 minutes ago when they were looking for an answer on the website and then – in frustration – called the company only to wade through the phone menus and sit on hold – again – for 8 minutes.

It’s tiring just writing about it; imagine how frustrating it was to experience it!

I’m not painting a picture of anything you haven’t experienced as a customer in your personal life. This happens every day, in every industry, MILLIONS of time each week.

Many companies claim to want processes that are “customer-friendly,” but too often the reason why they are not “customer-friendly” is that they were designed looking only internally – like conducting a 1980s style flow chart analysis.

What is the rework we can eliminate? Where is the redundancy that we can streamline? Where is the waste to remove? Where is the manual step that we can automate?

While these are all excellent questions, too often they’re asked purely from the company’s perspective. Then we design a process and implement it, only to later wonder why customers complain so much about the process! To them, it’s frustrating, it’s cumbersome, it’s not clear.

So what’s the process solution? Look at that wonderful process flow that looks so clean from the company’s perspective, and – instead of implementing it as is – flip it to view it from the customer’s perspective.

What’s that journey like that the customer undertakes? When do they find the need to contact you? How do they decide to look for you? How do they start tracking down answers or tracking you down?

We call this step part of our Customer-focused Process Redesign methodology, but you can also do this using mystery shopping or using customer focus groups and interviews. There are many methodologies to use in improving a process, but to make that new process part of a great experience, incorporate the voice of the customer.

Flip the view.

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