relationship

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID – 6/23/20

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

A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified – Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication.

When you hear something like this – that individuals working remotely are often lonely or struggling with effective communication and collaboration – you start to wonder how communications can be more effective, how collaboration can occur, and how feelings of loneliness and isolation can be overcome.

As I was thinking about the root causes of these issues and possible solutions, I remembered the Customer Service Standards that one of our education industry clients implemented. We helped to design these Standards based on their desired organizational culture, and I wanted to share them with you.

Paraphrased below are some of the Standards. They are worded as actions, but they are also individual commitments. Review them, and see how you can tangibly address them to care for yourself and your co-workers:

  • I will communicate with others so they feel valued and important. I will actively listen to them and convey my understanding, communicating in a clear, concise, and complete manner.
  • I will acknowledge communications from others in a timely manner and manage expectations for next steps; I will then address the need in a time that meets or exceeds their expectations.
  • I will engage with others around common goals, building mutual trust and loyalty as we move together toward solutions.
  • I will work with others, proactively sharing information and ideas to support the achievement of collective goals.

 

These all relate to communication, collaboration, being proactive, and being responsive. They revolve around a theme of empathy and caring for others. And if utilized, they may help to overcome the loneliness of others…and ourselves.

Apply these Standards to Care for Co-workers during COVID.

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Reach Out to Customers the Right Way – 3/31/20

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

Depending on what industry that you work in, business is either booming, or it’s greatly slowed down.  I’m not sure if there’s much of a middle ground these days – where industries are working as normal.

If you’re in one of the industries where business has slowed, there may be an opportunity for you, and a need to address.  When customers are not coming to us as often – to take out a loan for a financial institution, to order products, to buy tickets to a sporting event, to submit plans for new construction – those are times where we lose touch points with our customers. Those are times when we lose contact. Those are times where there are gaps in the communication which can lead to relationships going stale.

Therefore, these are times when we need to ramp up our proactive communications with customers.

Three Types of Proactive Touches – Pick the Right Ones

Too often, businesses view proactive touch points with customers only as opportunities to market and sell. However, you may recall that we recommend three different types of touch points with customers.  One obviously is a proactive communication where you’re marketing and selling, but the first touch point is one where you are seeking information from your customers, asking questions, conducting short surveys, or inquiring about the customer.  The second is actually a proactive push of information, but it is not sales and marketing-oriented. Instead, you are sharing information of value. You’re trying to help the customer.  You are offering educational information to help them personally or professionally.

So, two of the three proactive touches have nothing to do with marketing and sales, and these softer touches are the ones to ramp up at times like these.

When the number of times that your customer reaches out to you goes down, ramp up the number of proactive touches to your customers.  But with empathy, remember that these touches are focused on learning about them and how they’re doing; these touches are about providing information valuable to them – to help them.

Keep your proactive communications with your customers going.

Don’t let relationships go stale.

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Create Mutually-beneficial Relationships – 3/10/20

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

We have worked with many clients over the years who have long-term staff in customer service roles.  At some point, the company decides to add a sales component to the responsibilities of the representatives, and the sparks start to fly!

I was not hired to sell. This is not in my job description. I’m a service person, not a salesperson. Customers don’t want us pushing stuff on them.

These are the kinds of objections that management gets from staff, and many of these objections are entirely valid.  For an organization to effectively pivot from purely service to service with some sales, leadership has to instill a mindset that it is possible to have a mutually-beneficial relationship with customers.  It’s not just that the company benefits from the customer’s purchases.  We also need to see how the customer benefits from what the company can provide.

When we were conducting a workshop with a client recently, we asked how to create mutually-beneficial relationships with customers.  This is some of what they said:

  • We provide them information that might save them money, such as information on rebates.
  • We provide educational information and services on trends in industry, technology, regulations, policies/procedures, and other information of use to them.
  • We have a loyalty program for their ongoing use of our products and services.
  • We understand what they want and need, we’ve asked them about their goals, and we take action based on what they tell us.
  • We know our products, so we can make sure we match up a specific need with a specific product.
  • We know our services and how to fix issues quickly, so we can be very responsive to their challenges.
  • We have connections with other groups within our organization and with other organizations, so if there’s something they need that we don’t provide, we know how to make that match.
  • If we know something is going to be backordered, we identify it and proactively reach out to them to make an alternative offer.

Some of what the client personnel told us related to positioning yourself as an educator for customers.  Some examples related to understanding your business exceptionally well so you can match their need with your solution.

Some comments related to being proactive on sharing information that might save the customer money, or being highly responsive when issues arise that might challenge them.  And some of these ideas simply dealt with knowing the customer better as well as knowing where to go to meet customer needs, even if it wasn’t within your particular organization.

If part of the customer service representative’s responsibilities is to sell, make sure that the organization and staff first understand how to create a mutually-beneficial relationship.

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