retention

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

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

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


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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Customer for Life – The Third Step – 4/2/19

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Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Sounds simple, but this is the hardest part. Let’s assume that you’ve addressed the first 2 steps (knowing the customer and keeping the relationship fresh – the communications ongoing). Now you’ve got to address their retention-drivers.

This is hard because you could have 10 different customers with 10 different reasons they’re with you, with 10 different reasons why they’d leave you. Mary may be with you for your responsiveness, and Mark is with you for convenience; Jennie is with you for a particular product feature, and Josh is with you because he receives great value. Renee wouldn’t leave as long as she’s treated consistently, and Rashaad wouldn’t leave as long as he’s treated like a king.

You see, to have a Customer for Life, this 3rd step requires that you know each customer uniquely and – more importantly – you consciously address each one as unique. You have to be highly responsive to Mary and make processes easy/convenient for Mark. You have to ensure Jennie never loses that feature, and you’d need to reinforce perceived value and add actual value for Josh. You’d have to be consistent with Renee and ensure your co-workers provide her the same level of service; with Rashaad, you’ve got to treat him like a king!

To create a customer for life, be conscious of the unique quality that keeps each customer. Then – in every encounter – strive to address that reason for staying.

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