retention

Never Before… - 8/4/20


The importance of customer service is at the forefront again in our economy.  We noticed this clearly in the early 2000s when the country’s economy struggled, and we noticed it again during the Great Recession several years later.  Today, with yet another set of unexpected and extreme economic challenges, Read more

Effectively Teach the Customer - 7/28/20


The 1985 Harris and Rosenthal research project conveyed what really improves student learning based on the interaction with the teacher.  The top two factors that teachers used to increase learning were (1) The duration of the interaction with the student and (2) The encouragement of the student.  In 3rd Read more

Meet on Equal and Even Ground - 7/21/20


“To be of most service to my brother, I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.”  Henry David Thoreau wrote this in 1841, and it applies almost 180 years later in customer service. We often talk about empathy, and empathy relates to an employee having an understanding Read more

When Customers are…Jerks - 7/14/20


Some people are a little extra…uh…difficult to deal with these days. Customers may have concerns or complaints – many of which are justified. But some customers act like…well…jerks. They’re not kind or understanding or have any idea how poorly they treat others. They’re obnoxious and yet, we still have Read more

Customers Appreciate Your Kindness - 7/7/20


The 3rd grade teacher had a phrase she used with her students. She wanted them to be “kind-hearted.” It was a phrase she used over and over again; no matter what she taught, this was an overriding emphasis on how she would communicate with students and how she expected Read more

6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


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 Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

A Hair-Cut Above…and Below – 2/11/20

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

After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between my barber’s preferred banter with his co-workers.  The cuts were becoming less consistent, and his price kept inching up; the last price increase was just for his customers – they weren’t changing the posted pricing or the pricing of the other hair stylists, so that was equally confusing and troubling.

So it’s the 21st Century, right?  Therefore, I decided to try one of the more modern shops where you sign-in online.  Four times I went to the new shop, I had 4 different stylists with 4 different approaches to how to cut the hair.  The experience (other than signing in the same way, going to the same facility, and paying the same way) was different each time.  Each stylist had their own style of engagement (or lack of engagement), and the inconsistency in quality and connection was too much.  I decided to leave.

Enter Shop #3.  On my first visit, they asked me questions about my style preferences and about me in general; they took some notes, described the process of working with them, and did what they said they’d do.  The stylist had a great attitude, and overall it was a good experience.

I went back a second time; the notes from the first cut were there – the stylist confirmed the information, and I had an equally good experience and a very similar approach to the cut.

There are several little nuggets to mine from this story.  Here are just a few…

Don’t drop the quality and hike the price.  Inconsistency leads to customer loss.  The process can be the same, but the experience can be totally different.  Make the customer feel more important than your co-worker.  Don’t make your customer drive the conversation.  If the customer tells you something, don’t make them repeat it next time – just confirm whether the circumstances are the same.

Make sure your customer experience is consistently a cut-above!

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

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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 the role of the consumer. I’m talking to the customer service representative, and they’re saying they can take care of something, but they’re not telling me how long it will take. They are talking to me about some additional options, but they are not letting me know how much they’ll cost. Sometimes it’s not even during a conversation when I experience this as a consumer. I go to a website I utilize often, and it has unexpectedly changed dramatically. I call to talk to my customer service representative, and they’ve left the company.

There was no communication about how long the process would take or the cost of the additional options. There was no advance notice that the website was changing or that my account representative was leaving.

This lack of communication could be caused by the employee not wanting to bring up an issue that may make the customer upset or result in a longer call. The employee may try to avoid conflict, or they may be evaluated on how long they spend on the phone. Maybe they don’t notify the customer of the new website or the exiting account representative because they themselves weren’t aware, or maybe they were aware but don’t think ahead and view situations through the eyes of the customer.

The reasons are varied, and while some of those reasons are not controllable by the employee, some are controllable. The employee can choose to talk about process steps and timing, or not. They could address the pricing of the different options, or not. They could give the customer a “head’s up” on the new web design or the fact that the account representative will be leaving, or not.

When deciding whether to be proactive and tell the customer about the issue or the change about to happen, start with this core question – What’s in the best interest of the customer?

It’s hard to fail in your role as someone seeking to serve and retain the customer by doing what’s in their best interest. Communicating the unwelcome news may be the tougher decision, but it’s usually the right decision.

Communicate in a way that addresses the best interest of your customer.

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Customer for Life – The Final Step – 4/16/19

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Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them.

While the 3rd step is the toughest – since 10 different customers might have 10 different reasons to stay with your business or go – the Final Step is the one most customer service representatives are uncomfortable with, don’t enjoy, or – frankly – can’t stand doing. Why? Because it means we have to ** gulp ** sell.

No!! Not Sell!!

Yes…sell.

Personally, I never enjoyed selling, and I never felt that I was good at it. Part of the reason why I felt that way is because of how I defined “selling.” To me, selling was pushing a product on somebody that didn’t want it. It was starting a conversation that another person did not want to have or did not find useful. It was pressuring somebody into something just to extract money from them. I guess this was my definition because – in various situations in my personal life – this had happened to me. I was thinking of the worst of those personal situations and putting them in a box marked “SELLING.”

But to have a deeper relationship with someone, you need to grow the relationship. You need to seek out the needs that are under the surface and better understand the issues that impact them, and you have to offer support. You have to be willing to go a little further in your understanding of the other person and their issues, needs, and goals so that you can go a little further in helping them as a friend.

If you want a Customer for Life, you have to take that extra step as well. You have to be inquisitive enough to ask deeper questions about the real issues they face and the real goals they’d like to attain. And you’ve got to be willing to not only identify resources that you can offer them to address those issues and those goals, but you’ve got to take the next step and be willing enough to suggest those resources to them.

This is how I got over my aversion to selling. I view it as an opportunity to help somebody through something that my organization can provide. It’s not identifying a product that we have and figuring out who to push it to. It’s taking a deeper interest in what my client is dealing with or trying to achieve, and trying to help them achieve it. Sometimes that aid is in suggesting other resources or giving informal advice, and sometimes it is suggesting that they tap into some of our CSS resources.

To have a Customer for Life, realize you need to be willing to deepen the relationship by asking those more difficult questions and being willing to suggest solutions to the client.

To keep a customer for life, redefine “selling,” and then sell to serve your customers better.

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