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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

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Sympathy – the Customer Service Conundrum – 4/5/16 TOW

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The employee tried to defuse the customer who was upset by stating “I feel the same way you do right now.”

The customer service representative told the customer “I know exactly what you’re going through.”

The client was obviously unhappy, and the employee responded “I’m as frustrated as you are.”

Maybe these responses from the employee seem appropriate – or maybe they seem out of bounds. But if you’re teetering on your decision about whether these are good or bad employee statements, read the following – the same scenarios with more context.

The employee tried to defuse the long-term customer who was upset about the no-return policy by stating “I feel the same way you do right now.”

The customer service representative told the customer who had been on hold for over an hour “I know exactly what you’re going through.”

The client couldn’t get the answer to their question on the website or on the phone and was obviously unhappy having to go downtown to the company offices, and the employee responded “I’m as frustrated as you are.”

How do the employee responses seem to you now? The problem with these statements is that they are far more focused on sympathy than empathy. They are more about stating how the employee knows the exact customer situations and maybe even has the same feelings as the customer. But often, when employees try to move from sympathy to empathy, they run a big risk.

Do they know the whole customer story? Do they truly feel what the customer feels? Does a customer want an employee to sound like the real victim of poor customer service? No. No. No.

Be careful when trying to convey to the customer that you truly know the full extent of their situation and to feel their feelings. In most cases, you don’t, and that’s okay.

Instead of serving up sympathy, show empathy. You don’t have to “feel their feelings” to provide great customer service.

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Rudeness is an Issue – How to Avoid it – 8/11/15 TOW

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According to a recent times.com article, there are several top reasons why customers get frustrated with customer service. Tied for the biggest frustration is dealing with rude customer service representatives. Survey results noted that 75% of customers are “highly annoyed by rude or condescending employees.”

While many of us feel that we’re generally pleasant people, even the most pleasant individuals can run the risk of coming off as rude or condescending. This perception by others can come from the tone of voice, the actual words used, or body language in face-to-face situations.

In order to ensure that the answer you give or solution provided does not reflect negatively on you, here are several things you can do to avoid being perceived as rude or condescending:

  • Watch Subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) Tone Issues – Avoid the “huffs” or frustrated sighs, and don’t let your booming voice dominate them.
  • Avoid Using “you” if Discussing Blame – Don’t do this: “If you would have just done ABC, this wouldn’t have been an issue.”
  • Convey Some Empathy – There’s a difference between a coldly delivered “That’s against policy” and an empathetic “Unfortunately we’re not able to do ABC for this reason, but let’s talk about what we CAN do for you.”
  • Effectively Move to the Hold or Transfer – Don’t put someone on hold or transfer unless you first ask and explain why you’re making the move.
  • Consider the Body Language – Avoid the eye rolls, folded arms, smirks, a lack of focus on the customer, and – ugh – putting your hand up in the “stop” position.
  • Don’t Rush the Customer – This is by far the most frequent cause of perceived rudeness – even when customers are dealing with kind customer service representatives. Lacking patience, talking quickly, giving short answers, interrupting the other person, and not confirming that the customer got their need met are all drivers of that perception of a rude employee.

 
Avoid rudeness – the customer’s hot button with customer service.

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Great Customer Service is Like a Delicious Meal – 6/9/15 TOW

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It was one of those situations that can change your life.

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration because we are talking about food here, but let’s see if you can relate. Have you ever had one of those meals or desserts or appetizers – or just tasted food that made you go WOW?! Maybe it was eating lobster for the first time, or it was the experience of the perfect chocolate cake. It was a simple hamburger that shocked you with its deliciousness; it could have been some barbecue that melted in your mouth, or a certain sauce on your pasta you’ve never experienced. It was so juicy or so bold or so flat-out delicious, that you paused – everything around you slowed down – and you were just so enthralled with – yes, food.

It’s just food, but you know when you taste something so far above the ordinary.

Customer service can be the same way. We all experience customer service in our personal lives daily – good, bad, and indifferent. We experience it over and over throughout the week. Yet, despite the continual nature of our exposure to customer service experiences, we KNOW when the customer service is GREAT!

Just like the great meal makes everything slow and makes you realize this is something special, so does that great experience or that great employee. You can feel that this experience is far beyond the ordinary. And since – as a consumer – you know the occasional feeling of great customer service, think of what you deliver as an employee in customer situations.

You may want your customers to have a great experience, but are you SO OBVIOUSLY EMOTIONALLY INVESTED in what you’re doing and for whom you’re doing it that the customer can’t help but see your passion? Are you so interested in helping customers, co-workers, and company alike that your obvious caring-nature oozes in your conversation with customers? Are you so wired to help others that customers can’t help but know that you’re entirely focused on them and their needs – like they’re the most important person in the world at that moment?

As a consumer you can taste the “WOW” of great food.

As an employee, deliver the WOW that comes from the emotion of staff that truly care.

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