relationship

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

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

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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