resolve

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

A Letter of Apology – 11/25/14 TOW

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


If you were searching your Inbox for the Customer Service Tip of the Week at the normal time last week, I’m sorry that it wasn’t there to be found. Our e-mail provider had a major service issue, and the e-mail was delayed. Constant Contact has been an excellent e-mail/survey partner for CSS, so I wasn’t thrilled, but I’ll cut them a little slack because of past – and positive – history.

Lessons can be learned from last week by reviewing the e-mail/letter/blog post sent from the CEO. Click here to review the letter.

The CEO started by empathizing with the client and apologizing. She explained the issue that caused the problem without appearing to make many excuses. She reassured the clients that the system was now working fine, apologized again, noted how she values the client’s time, and offered support if the client needed help.

In this day and age of “LOL” and “IMO”, this letter of apology was “OMG” – pretty good! Professional letter writing is definitely a lost art. Read the letter, and e-mail me at edward.gagnon@cssamerica.com with your thoughts. What would you have done differently? What did you like best?

Sometimes we can learn best from the failures of others, so we don’t replicate those failures ourselves. And even in the missteps of others, we can learn the positives of what they did right to respond.

Learn a little lesson from a letter of apology.

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Not So Fast with Quick Issue Resolution – 11/4/14 TOW

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The technique we suggest to our clients for dealing with the irate customer is easily taught but not easily perfected. It involves listening, empathizing, accepting responsibility, and delivering on a remedy. We’ve taught literally thousands of Service Excellence training participants how to use this highly effective technique, but many employees have trouble executing it well.

When observing staff role-playing the technique in their small groups, there are reasons why it sometimes doesn’t work – the employee’s tone doesn’t sound sincerely empathetic. The employee makes no eye contact. The employee doesn’t ask questions about the specifics of the issue. Maybe the employee gets defensive.

But the biggest pitfall stems from the fact that most employees want to get out of these conversations fast. There are two typically reasons for this desire for speed: (1) Employees are uncomfortable dealing with angry customers, so they quickly want to remove themselves from the situation, and (2) Employees sincerely believe that quick resolution is what the customer wants – which typically is true.

The biggest pitfall is an employee’s lack of patience.

Whether the employee is trying to extricate themselves from the conversation or help the customer get that quick resolution, the most frequent drawback in taking those perspectives is that they try to navigate the conversation too quickly. They’re not patient. They talk fast. They don’t give the customer enough time to vent. They quickly go to a solution without learning the facts. They interrupt the customer. They say “I’m sorry” so early on and so quickly that the sincerity is lost. They try to end the conversation before they allow the customer to drop the emotions. They try to take control with speed rather than take control with well-worded questions.

Quick resolution is a noble goal, but the best way to get there involves listening, empathizing, and being patient enough to ask the right questions so you can present the right solution. Speeding to an end rarely ends well.

Summon all your patience when presented with a service recovery situation.

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Defend without Being Defensive – 7/8/14 TOW

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The customer is not always right. Sometimes they’re flat out wrong. Your co-workers aren’t perfect. Sometimes they don’t return the call, or they’re rude, or they provide misinformation, or they set unrealistic expectations. People make mistakes.

When apologizing to the customer, you sometimes have to say “I’m sorry” or “I apologize,” but those words are hard to come by when that customer is wrong. Those words are difficult to share when they’re criticizing your co-worker.

At the same time that you’re trying to defuse that irate customer, we suggest that you do two things that can seemingly be in conflict: Support your co-workers, and don’t get defensive.

So how do you defend without getting defensive?

Think of defensiveness as having an emotional quality, where you’re trying to protect the co-worker or company, maybe you’re trying to deflect blame from yourself. While these are all natural things to want to do, when you bring your emotion into the conversation, you begin to lose one of the key tenets of successfully dealing with an irate customer – pull emotion out of these conversations.

Therefore, when defending others, do it without emotion, without the tone and body language and words that can raise the temperature of a conversation.

Now you may want to ask why we should “defend” in the first place. Won’t that start an argument? Won’t that make them more irate?

Well it could if done incorrectly, and there’s a fine line we’re walking. The reason to occasionally defend is this: If you allow incorrect conclusions to be solidified in the customer’s mind, then that will affect that customer’s loyalty, that customer’s word-of-mouth, and that customer’s attitude in future interactions with your business.

And while I’m not suggesting you correct every customer misstatement (since that surely will backfire), if they say that Chris – your co-worker – did something that he’d never do (yelled at the customer or advised the customer to do something that’s obviously against policy), you want to support your co-worker. Consider these phrases:

  • I wasn’t in that conversation, so I can’t speak specifically to what was Chris said, but I’m sorry you had to deal with it, and I want to help you find a resolution.
  • I’ve known Chris for years, and I’ll definitely talk with him since that’s not the experiences his customers typically have, and I’m very sorry about what happened in your case. Let’s discuss how we can best resolve this moving forward.
  • That’s not how we typically do things around here, so I’m very sorry about the situation. I’ll definitely share your concerns internally after our call, and right now I want to make sure we can get this situation addressed immediately.

The commonality in these statements is that we don’t agree with the customer that our co-worker was at fault, we stay composed, we let them know that the situation isn’t typical, and we transition the conversation to a resolution.

When dealing with the irate customer, learn to defend without being defensive.