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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

How to Evaluate Yourself (Done v. Accomplishments) – 12/9/14 TOW

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How do you evaluate yourself? Too often in my work life (and sometimes, personal life), I’ve tended to evaluate myself based on what I’ve “Done.” I completed that project. I responded to those calls quickly. I sent that analysis out on time. I gave a speech to “X” number of people.

There are two issues with evaluating yourself in this manner. First – and it’s obvious – there’s a lot of “I” involved in those statements. They’re focused on self. Second, focusing on what you’ve “Done” focuses almost purely on production. It makes your evaluation all about the widgets you produced.

We need to evaluate ourselves to confirm we’re on the right path and identify where we need to improve, but we must do the evaluation the right way.

Base your evaluation on “Accomplishments.” This is different. First, in the world of customer service, your Accomplishments are the success you enable for others. By definition, customer service says that you’re serving the customer (or client, partner, stakeholder, fan, patient, account – whatever term you choose). Evaluating our success based on the impact we have on others forces us to KNOW THE IMPACT we have on others.

Second, it forces us to focus more on the quality of what we do, how we do it, and the outcomes we provide than on the task itself. You enable them to “enjoy a product,” to “relieve stress,” to have a “better quality of life,” to become “more successful.” Accomplishments are more outcomes-driven than the “Done” mentality of a focus on tasks.

When you evaluate whether you’re great at customer service, first think about your customers and the outcomes they desire. What are their goals, needs, and wants? Then think about whether you impact their desired outcomes.

When evaluating yourself, focus on what you Accomplish for others.

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Practice Active Root Core Thinking…Huh? – 11/18/14 TOW

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We need to be “Active Listeners.” We need to be “Critical Thinkers.” We need to find the “Root Cause” and determine the “Core Need.”

You hear similar statements all the time, and, yes, these are all important things, but what do they really mean? Here are some examples:

You’re a fan relations representative for a pro sports club, and the season ticket holder asks if they can relocate from their seats to a certain section with no availability. Instead of simply saying “No,” ask “Is there something in particular you like about that section?” You might uncover a reason for their move that could be addressed elsewhere.

You work for a local municipality, and the developer says they need a permit. Instead of assuming what permit they need, you could say “I’d be happy to help you with that! Tell me a little about the project so I can best help you get started.”

You work for a hospital, and the patient says they “need a smoke.” Of course, it’s a smoke-free campus, so you say “Unfortunately, we can’t do that since it’s a smoke-free campus, but help me understand what you’re feeling that’s making you want to smoke, and maybe I can find a way to help you.”

If you are someone interested in being an “Active Listener” or a “Critical Thinker,” someone interested in “Root Causes” or “Core Needs,” that’s a good desire to have – especially in customer service. But don’t get too hung up on the fancy terms. Look at the three examples just provided to truly understand what’s being suggested by those terms:

  • Be inquisitive; ask questions – they show you’re engaged and care.
  • Understand their goal, so you can better understand potential solutions.
  • Don’t make assumptions – you might waste your time and that of the customer by going down the wrong path based on misinformation.
  • Be patient – don’t hear the symptom and think you know the root cause.
  • Restate your understanding of the person’s needs; ensure you know so specifically what they want that you can address it right the first time.

 
Practice Active Root Core Thinking…or just plain old good communication skills.

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Be Like Mike – 10/7/14 TOW

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It was the 1980s, and cell phones were new. You had the soft, black carrying base the size of a phonebook, and you dreamed one day of getting a flip phone…

True Story – Dave was losing service on his cell phone, and he had an urgent need to get it fixed. He was getting ready to go on a business trip, and he needed the phone to talk to several of his customers, with many of the discussions needing to be taken care of “mobiley.”

So Dave called his cell phone provider, and the customer service representative (CSR) picked up the phone.

Dave: “Are you a basketball fan?”

CSR: “Uh, yes.”

Dave: “Well there’s 2 seconds left, you’re the coach. The ball needs to go to Michael Jordan to win the game. Now, I want you to stand up at your cube, look around the office, and get me in touch with your Michael Jordan.”

The CSR puts Dave on hold and transfers the call to the lady sitting right next to him – Theresa. She takes the call, identifies Dave’s needs and his situation, and promises to address the problem. She does everything perfectly!

Three hours later, Dave hears his phone ring for the first time in days; it’s working! Theresa had called to tell Dave that they had figured out the problem. It wasn’t an easy solution, but she got it done.

Several months later, Dave’s in his office, and he remembered the situation. He wrote a letter to the company praising Theresa and providing all the details he could remember.

About 9 months later, Dave gets another call from Theresa. She said she’s moving to Memphis – she got a promotion and was now VP over customer service for her company.

Dave: “Congratulations, Theresa! I’m so happy for you!”

Theresa: “If you’re ever here, please come into the office. And if you come into the lobby – there’s a glass case with awards, trophies, and plaques. Right in the middle of the display, there’s a framed letter – it’s the letter you wrote. Thank you, Dave!”

Theresa was the go-to person. She was Michael Jordan. She produced in the clutch, and she was rewarded.

As the old commercial says, “Be Like Mike.”

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