representative

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

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

Jamey Needed to Slow Down – 6/10/14 TOW

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


Jamey is young, but he’s pretty good at sales – his new sales numbers generally prove the point. He seems to care about fixing issues, speaks articulately, and responds quickly and specifically “on his feet” when asked the tough questions or challenged. He’s confident, so Jamey was shocked when one of his accounts told him “That’s not how things are done in the South; you’ve got to develop a relationship first.”

Jamey had responded to every request or question, quickly. He was speedy in resolution to issues. He didn’t take up too much of the customer’s time on the phone – the conversations were short and quick.

The problem was that Jamey’s quick responses, fast talking, and general speed (in everything he did) didn’t appeal to this client. The quick responses were good, but they were often a few words in an e-mail with no greeting such as “Nope. Can’t work that out this time.”

Jamey thought he was being considerate of the client’s time with his quick calls, but they were quick because Jamey was peppering his customer with questions instead of creating a more two-way conversational tone. When Jamey received a call from the account, he typically talked fast and hung up quickly. When Jamey fixed a problem quickly, he often didn’t call the client to ensure that the fix worked.

Even though Jamey did so many things technically correct, he didn’t have a good enough read on this account to tailor how he communicated about those “things” to the preference of his client. So the client interpreted that Jamey was impatient, rushed, or just didn’t care about the client.

In customer service, sometimes it’s not just about what you do or how quickly you do it; rather, to many customers, it’s how you communicate with them during the process.

Don’t rush through conversations like they’re just another box on the “To Do” list. Be patient. View relationship-building as a process.


Build Your Confidence with the 5 P’s – 4/22/14 TOW

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


Sometimes a person’s anxiety, worry, indecision, passivity, inefficiency, and lack of ownership can all have the same source – lack of confidence. It could be the student unwilling to raise his hand in class; we could be discussing the leader making decisions simply by not making decisions. Maybe it’s the adult talking with twelve friends and family members about something to gain the 100% certainty that will never exist. Maybe it’s the employee who won’t take on a responsibility because they’re afraid of doing the wrong thing.

Years ago, we shared a Tip of the Week (TOW) that talked about how to build confidence, and what we’re doing today is expanding that list to build your confidence further. To build your confidence, here are the 5 P’s of knowledge-building. You need to “Know Your:”

  • Processes – Learn your organization’s information flows and process flows so you can know HOW things occur and be able to explain the HOW of actions to customers.
  • Policies – Understand the company’s policies and the reasons for them to be able to explain the WHY behind the WHAT to customers.
  • Products – Become well aware of your organization’s products and services so you can easily match the customer’s issue/need/goal to your company’s solution.
  • People – Know who does what in your organization so you’re aware of whom to contact to address a need; also, get to know your customers – ask questions, look at their purchase/participation/service history so you can tailor your response to what makes them and their situation unique.
  • Purpose – Understand your purpose. We’ll address this more in next week’s TOW, but think of Purpose like this – why do you do what you do? Beyond the tasks, meetings, notes, communications, paperwork – what is the greater good in what you do? If you know the ultimate goal of your role, you can be more confident, particularly when what you are being asked to do might not be “within the job description.”

Use this knowledge-based approach to becoming more confident in interactions with customers.

Build confidence by building knowledge.


Anatomy of a DMV Experience – 3/25/14 TOW

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The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) employee was very nice and patient with me on the phone. I’m sure that any supervisor that was listening in on the call would give the representative good marks for addressing my need and thanking me for my call.

But it was a horrible experience. Why?

As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

A friend had just recently received a car from a relative, and it had a 10-day temporary authorization to drive without an inspection. Prior to getting the car inspected, my friend unexpectedly got very sick (she is well now, thank goodness), and my friend was afraid that she’d miss the deadline to get an inspection. So she asked that I call to see if she could get an extension:

  • Call #1 – I went to the State DMV website and didn’t find the answer, but I did find a phone number to call. The recorded message asked me to wait and gave no specific expected time for the call to be answered. I waited on hold for 10 minutes and then hung up.
  • Call #2 – I called a local DMV office (let’s call this Office “A”); after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up.
  • Call #3 – I called another local DMV office (let’s call this Office “B”); it rang busy.
  • Call #4 – I called a 3rd local DMV office (let’s call this Office “C”); there was a pleasant message noting whether they would accept payments; they suggested I press “0” for Operator; so I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #5 – I called Office “C” back a few minutes later, thinking that maybe they didn’t have a call queue; after the pleasant message, I pressed 0 and got a busy signal.
  • Call #6 – I called Office “B,” hoping that it too just was overloaded and maybe didn’t have a call queue; it rang busy again.
  • Call #7 – I called Office “A,” and – again – after 8 rings, it started to buzz like a fax machine; I hung up again.
  • Call #8 – I called the State DMV again, and – after 14 minutes – the representative picked up the call as I noted at the beginning of this Tip.

We cannot assume that because one conversation went right on the phone that the customer had a great experience. For all we know, the customer may have had 7 bad experiences before that one conversation that went right.

If this was a private business, I wouldn’t have called 8 times; I would have gone to a competitor, and just like the DMV, they never would have known why.

Mystery Shop your services, or ask the customer about their experience. Never assume that because one moment-of-truth went right that the overall experience worked for the customer.

Know what you’re missing about the full customer experience.