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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

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

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

How to Deal with the Non-Conversational Customer – 4/24/18

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


The customer would not say much. He was giving one-word answers when you’re seeking information. It was “like pulling teeth.” Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was ticked off. Maybe it’s just the way he normally speaks.

Regardless of the reason for the lack of dialogue, you need information. You have other customers to serve. You need to make the conversation work.

When you find yourself in a situation with a customer who is basically non-communicative, here are some tips to still hold an effective conversation:

  • Start by asking simple close-ended questions such as “Did you make the purchase in the store or online?” A few close-ended questions create a dialogue and add a little bit of rhythm to the conversation. The conversation starts to flow.
  • Be very appreciative of any response they give. You may reply to their brief response by saying “That helps!” or “Great!” Then go to your next question. You’re creating a positive tone instead of showing any frustration with their brevity.
  • Explain why you’re asking the questions. Oftentimes the hesitation is because they either don’t know why you need the information, or they are making negative assumptions about why you seek the information.
  • Confirm everything back to them. Because the non-conversational types usually don’t give you a lot of information up front, to ensure you understand the full picture, you often have to piece together multiple responses to your multiple questions.

 
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone who is obviously giving you very little to go on, hold back in your frustration. Taken a couple deep breaths, then get into a rhythm, be appreciative, explain why you need the information, and confirm it all back.

Learn how to deal with the non-conversational customer.

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Question without Questioning – 4/11/17

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


People great at customer service typically have the skill to artfully and effectively ask questions. By asking questions, you’re showing your interest, gaining control of the conversation, and learning about the specifics of the issue or need so you can tailor your response.

In a past Tip of the Week, I noted that asking questions (done incorrectly) can make it seem like you’re interrogating the customer – firing question after question at the customer.

There’s another risk to be wary of when asking questions of the other person. It’s the risk of the customer feeling like you’re questioning them – their motives, their honesty, their integrity, their intelligence.

You can run this risk primarily based on how your questions are delivered, not necessarily due to the questions themselves. Think body language and tone.

Imagine someone asking you the following question with their arms crossed, rolling their eyes, and emphasizing ‘that’ – “Why did you do that?”

Consider an employee with their eyebrow raised and asking you “So that was an accident?” You can almost feel them making air quotes as they say the word accident.

What if the employee said to you: “So what EX-ACT-LY was the purpose of that?”

When you want to ask the right questions for the right reasons, remember there’s a right way (and a wrong way) to do so. Ensure that your body language and tone don’t keep you from delivering a great experience.

Make sure you question without questioning.

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Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate – 10/18/16

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


One of the greatest skills someone in customer service can develop is the ability to ask questions – the right questions in the right way at the right time for the right purpose.

Asking questions allows you to control conversations, stay productive, learn a great deal, establish rapport, make the other person feel important, and get you what you need to help the customer.

As a part of a mystery shopping engagement with a client, we have recently run into two different employee examples of asking questions.

Rita is excellent. She knows the questions she has to walk through, but prior to asking the caller the questions to uncover their true need, she stated “Is it OK if I ask you some questions? I just want to get a better idea of how we can help you.” Then she moved into her questions, occasionally doing follow-up to what the caller had said. Rita came off to the caller in a positive manner – inquisitive, caring, patient, and helpful.

Bill wasn’t so great. After hearing an opening statement from the caller, he started asking question after question, never following up to what the caller stated. Never stating “that’s helpful” or “interesting point.” The questions always followed his script, and the conversation didn’t flow. If sounded more like a tennis match with a grunt with each swing of the racket than a flowing conversation. Bill came across as impatient – like he was interrogating the caller.

It’s great to ask questions of the customer – that’s how you learn; that’s how you understand the specific situation to better provide the specific answer or solution or product. But set up the questions with a statement of what you’re about to do and why; then let the questions flow as part of the conversation.

Make this skill a true strength for you and a positive experience for your customer.

Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate.

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