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 Customer Service Wreck that Wasn’t – 12/16/14 TOW

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


The car was at the dealership, sitting in the parking lot waiting to have the front-end aligned. Nobody was in the car, so the car was minding its own business, drinking in the midday sun. Then an 18-wheeler came by and side-swiped it, making one long dentscrape (my new word) down the entire passenger side of the car.

Now I could regale you with everything that went wrong from that point forward at the dealership (since the dentscrape happened to MY car). Instead, I’ll tell you a quick and positive story about something interesting that the body shop does for customers. FYI – This GOOD body shop is NOT the dealer’s body shop.

There were several selling points about the good body shop, including great reviews online, multiple before/after picture examples, convenience, and great interactions with the staff when trying to understand the repair and insurance processes. The one selling point I’d like to focus on is this – they take pictures.

Every evening they take pictures of the car and post them to the web to a URL only given to that particular car owner. Therefore, every night I can check on my baby (er…car) and see the progress made. This may sound like a little thing, but look at what it does:

  • First, it’s a touch point, so the company is in contact with the customer daily – keeping the relationship warm and the dialogue ongoing.
  • Second, the touch point is initiated by the customer (clicking on the URL with curiosity about their car), so there’s little labor involved in the touch.
  • Third, the openness of sharing photos builds trust in the process.
  • Fourth, there’s a comfort that’s imparted to the customer since there’s little fear of the unknown (the progress is made known through the pictures).
  • Fifth, the customer becomes confident because improvements are viewed, and the end point (the new-looking body of the car) becomes more clear over time.

Assuming you don’t work in a body shop, here are the lessons learned. Make it easy for the customer to know what’s going on with the project, service, issue, or product. Offer a “self-service” option to getting updates. Be open with progress and the process in order to build trust and comfort, and give them communications that paint a picture of success.

Show them the pictures that paint the story of success.

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Build Up Your Peers to Better the Customer Experience – 8/6/13 TOW

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In developing relationships with our clients, rarely are we truly alone. Maybe for an instant or an interaction it’s just us and the customer. But if we look longer term (a patient stay in a hospital, an account holder for a sports team, a client for a bank, a taxpayer for a municipality), those customer relationships involve many employees working together for that customer.

And in most organizations, individual good experiences don’t necessarily mean an overall good experience or lasting relationships. Sometimes the difference between Good and Great in the customer experience is driven by the handoffs between the different areas and staff. So this brings up three key questions with some quick tips noted below:

How can we ensure the NEXT employee is prepared to receive the customer prior to the “handoff?”

  • Communicate between different areas of the organization about a customer and the handoff about to take place so the second employee anticipates and looks for the customer
  • Bring specifics into the equation (offer background on the customer to the co-worker) – ensure the next employee can pick up on one fact about the customer so the customer feels that the handoff was made effectively
  • Use names of co-workers when talking with customers about the next step to personalize the discussion and humanize the process
  • Show you care about your fellow staff member in front of the customer; have a pleasant, informal dialogue with your peer so that the environment is positive and professional.

How can we “build up” the NEXT employee in the customer’s mind?

  • Compliment the next staff member in front of the customer; this helps to create rapport and reduce customer anxiety about the process or the person
  • Use descriptive language to describe the next staff member – “they’re energetic, successful, friendly, etc.”
  • Address the credentials or experience of the next employee – “they’ve helped many people in similar situations to yours…they’ve been with us for 5 years…, etc.”

How can we check-in on the customer’s experience with the PRIOR employee?

  • Ask how the process has gone so far – possibly use open-ended questions to gauge their perception of the experience
  • Ask the customer how the interaction went with the prior employee; reinforce any positives they convey; offer empathy for any concerns they voice, and offer to follow-up on any issues, if appropriate.

Moving from a Good to Great customer experience can require employees to set co-workers up for success.

Enable the other employee to succeed to enhance the customer experience.

 


Same Wait, Different Experience – 5/21/13 TOW

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Jenny went to Clinic A. She waited 35 minutes after registering to get taken to a room for her annual physical. Beth went to Clinic B. She waited 35 minutes after registering to get taken to a room for her annual physical.

Jenny felt great about the experience she had that preceded her physical. Beth thought that timeframe was awful.

Here was Jenny’s situation: She was greeted as soon as she walked in the office by the registration clerk. The clerk smiled, handed her a clipboard with a couple forms to complete, and asked Jenny to return the forms once complete. After confirming that Jenny understood what was being requested, she sat down.

The forms took about 4-5 minutes to complete, and when she provided the forms to the clerk, the clerk smiled, thanked Jenny, and noted that she just found out they were running about 30 minutes behind. She apologized to Jenny, confirmed Jenny didn’t want to reschedule, and noted the water cooler, the magazines, and other items available to help the time pass. The clerk said someone would touch base with an update in about 15-20 minutes.

After 15 minutes, an employee told Jenny that it was looking like it would be 15 more minutes before Jenny would be taken back; 10 minutes later the same employee stated that it would be 10 minutes more (about 35 total), and she apologized for the additional delay. Ten minutes later, a nurse came out and called “Is Jenny Smith here?” As Jenny approached, the nurse apologized for the delay and noted she was happy to see Jenny.

Here was Beth’s situation: She walked into the clinic, found the registration window, and stood there for about 30 seconds until the employee looked up and said “hello.” The clerk provided the forms on the clipboard and asked Beth to complete and return them.

When Beth provided the forms to the clerk, the clerk said “Thanks. We’ll call you shortly.” After about 20 minutes, Beth walked up to clerk and asked when she’d be seen. The clerk said “We’re running a little behind. We’ll call you back shortly.” So Beth returned to her seat.

About 15 minutes later, a nurse came through a door and said “Johnson!” That was Beth’s last name, so she jumped up and walked toward the nurse. The nurse held the door open and pointed at the scale just inside the door and said “I need you to get on the scale to check your weight.”

Same wait time. Same paperwork. Totally difference experience.

Communications can take a bland experience and make it palatable – or even positive! It’s like taking a quarter pound hamburger patty and adding the lettuce, tomato, condiments, cheese?, and a nice bun. It’s taking the basic and making it something worthy of your business.

Make sure the blandness of some processes and products are made palatable by great customer service.


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