relationship

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships – 1/5/21

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

I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just as big a gift when they reach out to me for those same purposes.

There is no recipe for how to maintain business relationships over long periods of time.  If there was one, I’m sure Google or Microsoft would have branded it by now and made their bajillion’s.  There’s no recipe because every individual is different, every organization is different, every dynamic between two people is a little bit different.  And although there is no one recipe, there are a few guiding principles that I go by that I thought I’d share with you as you continue to maintain and develop your own relationships in the working world:

  • Think and act in a long-term manner. A relationship is a long-term thing.  It’s not a transaction.  Knowing that forces me to think and interact in a way that conveys I have the other person’s long-term best interest at heart.  That might mean giving them advice and guidance that results in CSS not getting a contract in the near-term, and that is absolutely fine.  It’s about what’s best for them long-term, not what’s best for CSS.
  • Be appreciative of others. Other people make decisions all the time about whether or not to work with us or whether or not to respond to my messages.  I appreciate the consideration and the responses.  The proverbial attitude of gratitude is a real thing; appreciate others because they are unique and special.
  • Treat EVERYBODY with respect. That means everybody I engage with or run into – I just try to make respect an all-the-time kind of thing.  I really work hard to treat others with undivided attention, like they are the most important person in the world to me.  And usually, in that moment, they are the most important person in the world to me.
  • Build Trust. I conducted a team-building workshop for an Executive Team, and I had them write 3 things that others do that helps them to trust the other person, and write 3 things that others do that makes the individual not trust others.  The variation in responses was amazing.  “Build Trust” may be the hardest principle of all because trust-building/breaking can be defined differently by different people.  To build trust, If somebody tells me something in confidence, I keep it to myself.  If I say I’m going to do something by a certain time, I do it.  If I can’t do it or not within the timeline, I let them know.

 

Now, as a disclaimer, I’m not perfect at these guiding principles.  I mess up, but I’ve found that if I’ve worked to establish a relationship, the other person will give me some grace.

Keep in mind that I’m not naturally the most extroverted or gregarious person in the world.  I’m not a relationship savant.  So, I have to work at relationships.  I have to think about it.  I have to have principles and apply them over and over again.

Use these principles and those that align to your values to make 2021 the year of building relationships.

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Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities.

When Our Customers Can’t…

Oftentimes when individuals are going through change or they’re hurting, they have a limited reservoir to pull from for others.  Our customers have less energy or resources or money or time to give, so energy and resources and money and time are part of what they need.

When customers can’t give enough, it’s frustrating for them to be asked to give more.  So, from a customer service and retention perspective, or even a marketing perspective, move to view today through the eyes of your customer even more.

They don’t want the sales pitches as often.  They don’t want the target marketing as frequently.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t have touch points with customers.  That doesn’t mean you cannot reach out to customers.

In fact, we think you should reach out to them even a little bit more because your customers have needs beyond your product or your service.  They have more personal needs for their health or their well-being or their experience of enjoying life simply as a human being.

…What We Can

Consider reaching out to customers a little bit more, but – much more importantly – reach out to them a little bit differently.  Understand their world – their issues, needs, and goals – and determine what you could provide to them to help address those issues, needs, and goals.

For example, is there some information they don’t have access to that you could provide?  Are there some complex issues that you could address for them with simplicity?  Is there information or knowledge that is difficult to acquire, and you can create a 1-pager or a graphic or a simple link that they could click on to easily get the information they need?

Is there something they need in the near-term that you can provide in the near-term?  Keep in mind that customer retention is based on the business premise that we want to maximize lifetime value of each client to our organization.  So, these short-term and highly customer-focused touch points are being done to maintain and deepen the relationship for the long-term.

In other words, to maximize customer retention, you need to have a long-term focus.

The trees that live longest generally can weather the storms better if they have deeper roots.  Plant the seeds of customer retention today by reaching out a little bit more with a lot of extra value in the information you provide to your customers.


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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