root cause | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Caring Goes Beyond Competence - 11/30/21


April went to get some routine car maintenance done at the local service center.  When they finished the oil change, she paid for the service, got her keys, went to her car, and opened the door.  As she was about to enter the car, she stopped.  Somebody had obviously Read more

You Mostly Get What You Give - 11/23/21


It is Thanksgiving week in the United States, so let’s talk “Thanks.” There’s a saying that You Get What You Give.  And while the goal of giving thanks should not be “To receive things,” getting something positive in return is often a nice byproduct of being appreciative of others. It’s amazing Read more

Van Gogh the Vision - 11/16/21


Want to create Service Excellence in your organization?  Have a vision, then paint the picture of that vision.  It’s easier to create something if you can visualize it first, so let’s Van Gogh a Vision. Excellent customer service is delivered in a courteous manner.  Courtesy comes through when employees are Read more

First E-mail Impression? I’ll Enjoy Working with You - 11/9/21


When you provide consulting, research, and training services like we do, you meet a variety of people, and many of them are new individuals to work with even if they are in organizations you’ve worked with for years. When I meet the new customer or they meet me for the Read more

A Way to Serve with Empathy - 11/2/21


We first wrote a Tip of the Week on empathy back in 2008. It was the most important customer service skill then, and it’s the most important customer service skill now.  And as we’ve noted in society, empathy is becoming a word that is used more often in more Read more

Channel Your Inner Aristotle - 10/26/21


Aristotle once said: We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. This is a very interesting statement.  We need to break it down to fully understand and appreciate it. We are what we repeatedly do. Let’s focus on the word repeatedly.  None of us is Read more

To Improve, Understand Why You Do What You Do - 10/19/21


In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says that habits form at the intersection of desire, skills, and knowledge.  Desire is the WANT TO do something.  Skills is the HOW TO do something.  Knowledge is a combination of the WHAT TO do and WHY TO do Read more

Tailor to the Type - 10/12/21


We’re all different.  We’re all unique.  Every customer is different and unique, as well, and we should treat them as unique individuals. While we should see each customer as unique, before we fully get to know the customer, there are some core philosophies to take into customer conversations based on Read more

Avoid the Silence; Build the Relationship - 10/5/21


Our interactions with customers are “Moments of Truth.”  These Moments of Truth can be conversations with a customer about some complaint, encounters when they're in the drive-thru, questions about an order that the customer calls in to the company, or brief interactions in the lobby of a government building. Sometimes Read more

Make it a “Good Busy” - 9/28/21


When I’m speaking with colleagues or clients, I’ll often ask how their day is going. The response I get almost once a week is something like:  I’m incredibly busy! When I get that response, sometimes I’ll ask whether it is a “good busy” or whether they are “fighting fires.” I’ll ask Read more

Culture can be the Root of City Government Service Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 9-4-14In too many local municipalities, when the call volume increases for the contact center, you simply hire more staff. When loud complaints arise, politicians make speeches echoing the community’s concerns. When the pipes burst, you create a laundry list of solutions without first identifying the root cause.

That last example of reaction in local government happened in Winnipeg recently. According to the article Customer service at Winnipeg city hall should be a priority for our new mayor, last winter’s occurrence of bursting pipes for local residents required reorganizing their 311 call center, better dealing with their infrastructure, and realizing that some things are just natural disasters.

But according to the article’s author, what really made the problem so exceptionally bad were factors including “The city failed to identify the problem soon enough, failed to notify homeowners about what they could do to prevent freezing, failed to acquire enough equipment and manpower to thaw pipes, and failed to provide affected homeowners with the help they needed in a timely manner.”

These are issues of lack of measurement, lack of proactive communication, lack of community education, lack of long-term planning/thinking, and lack of responsiveness. In short, it was poor customer service and a lack of a customer-focused culture. Our company has seen often with our clients (in public and private sectors) issues become far worse than necessary. The issues were difficult enough to address, but the reaction to the issue often exacerbates the problem. Organizations that don’t understand how to create an aligned culture focused on service and responsiveness get caught when the issues arise.

They don’t anticipate. They don’t empathize. They don’t react well or quickly. They don’t communicate proactively. They don’t succeed.

Sometimes great “PR” for a local government is not just about having an excellent communications department. Sometimes great PR is a direct result of a culture that’s great in the 1-on-1 Moments of Truth with their residents.

When seeking to improve relationships with the community, local city and county governments first need to ensure their culture is designed to succeed.

Did you like this post? Here are other Government-related posts:


Getting at the Root of Patient Satisfaction Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

When a patient shares with her doctor that she has a sore throat, he begins asking questions to learn more about the soreness – this symptom with a deeper root cause. When a patient goes to the Emergency Room with chest pain, staff run tests to determine the cause – to address the symptom and determine a course of action based on the cause.

When patients present ailments, injuries, aches and pains, medical professionals look to not only address the symptom, but they also want to get at the root cause. Resolve the root cause, and the symptoms go away.

In Roach: Patient Satisfaction Crucial To Hospitals’ Success, soon-to-be hospital CEO Steven Roach addresses the need to improve patient satisfaction. But he’s not talking about conducting Disney training and implementing valet parking. He’s talking about the fact that many patients either visit the facility to get treated in the Emergency Department and discharged, or they are inpatients who were admitted through the E.D. Since the E.D. is experienced by so many, it not only has a huge impact on the patient’s perceptions, but it also impacts patient waits, work flow, productivity, and hospital financials.

And along with addressing the E.D. experience, Roach takes the next step – looking at root causes. Many E.D. issues with wait times and delays are the result of demand for services that should be provided elsewhere – out of the hospital setting and often by primary care doctors. This is what we call “Demand Management.” Instead of ONLY asking “How do we handle the volume we receive?” ask “How do we reduce the volume we receive?”

If your hospital or organization has process and wait time issues, you can bring in management consultants and process experts to do workflow redesign, but also think about what’s driving that demand, and find ways to redirect or reduce demand for high cost services.

Move from the symptom to the true root cause.

Did you like this post? Here are other Healthcare-related posts:


City Gets at the Root of Water Shut-off Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

“If they would just read their mail…”

This is a statement I hear from a lot of clients when talking about their customers (oftentimes, it’s “if they would just read their e-mails…”). The problem with the statement is that it can put the entire blame for an issue on the customer, when businesses need to be asking “What can we control? What can we impact?”

Staff at the City of Marysville were having an issue. The number of water shutoffs was increasing each week – up to 80-100 from half that number. This was driving more work for the staff and obviously irate feelings from City residents. The City initially blamed the economy and an auto-dialer notification system that didn’t work with cell phones, but that was just a theory. And to more permanently fix a problem, you need to determine the root cause.

To get at the root cause, they asked the customers about the issue. Customers thought they hadn’t received the bill even though they had received it. The problem was that the bill looked just like any other document – non-descript. The shut-off warnings were also non-descript. So how do you remedy this? An article on the story notes “The UB Team discussed several options to remedy this, and eventually settled on a cycle of three bills in different colors during the standard bi-monthly billing period: first a white notice, followed by a pink late notice for past due, then a yellow shutoff notice that warned that water would be shut off if payment wasn’t completed or arrangements made with the Utility Billing Department.”

The number of shut-offs now average under 30 per month.

When you have an issue, don’t assume the root cause and solution. Don’t immediately blame the customer, even if you communicated to them. The question is – did they notice, understand, and act on the communication? If not, what’s within your control to improve communications?

You can’t control the customer; but don’t use that as an excuse for not looking at your own options for improvement.

Interested in improving your organization’s customer service? See our other blog posts at: http://serviceadvice.cssamerica.com/category/government/

Learn about our CSS Government services at: http://cssamerica.com/cssgovt.htm