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

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

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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

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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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