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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

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

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

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 other shot, every other hole, was an emotional challenge. My attitude suffered, and my score suffered.

These days, I rarely play golf, but when I do there is so much less negative emotion involved after every mistake or every missed shot. Even though I miss-hit a lot more shots than I did when I was playing and practicing, one bad shot does not automatically lead to another. One bad hole does not automatically lead to another.

The difference is partly attitude, but it is also self-control. Self-control has a huge effect on an employee’s success in customer service as well.

It’s very difficult to talk to people via the web, via the phone, face-to-face, and via text, and to be consistently good if we allow one bad encounter to get to us. In customer service, it’s difficult to deal with the angry customers (and the occasional crazy customer!) if we allow that interaction or that one word or just that person’s “way” to influence what we do the rest of the day.

Self-control means making sure that we are listening to our bodies and monitoring our thoughts in these difficult circumstances. It means trying to stay loose and open mentally and physically despite the tension that surrounds us.

Having self-control is about controlling our emotions, being able to get through our initial reactions and – instead –respond in a way that is not knee-jerk. Having self-control means talking positively to ourselves when we’re getting ready to go into difficult meetings or hop on calls with customers who we know have issues. That level of self-control and managing our own emotions will help us to manage our part of the conversation that much better.

The idea is that bad stuff is going to happen in the business world just like I’m going to hit the shot out-of-bounds or I’m going to miss a 2-foot putt in golf. But if you have self-control, bad circumstances do not frustrate you as much. When you do something wrong, you’re not is likely to get angry with yourself, and when bad things happen at one point, you’re less likely to allow those situations to snowball throughout the remainder of your day.

Get in the habit of doing some self-monitoring of your thoughts and emotions so that you have the self-control you need to not let one bad apple or one bad encounter lead you into a bad day.

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Do Anything, but Not Everything – 8/27/19

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

We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and universities, most of those organizations of higher education also have the mindset that they have to help their students grow, mature, develop over their time in school. It’s important to put the responsibility and the resulting accountability on the student so that they take ownership over the action, and they can do it on their own in the future. By helping them to develop some independence, in the long run it is actually saving time for the university personnel as well.

Think about using this approach with your customers, particularly if you deal with repeat customers. These might be land designers who have to submit multiple plans to a local government to develop some property. These might be season ticket holders for a professional sports organization who need to learn how to manage their tickets on their own. This could be patients in a hospital who need to be able to understand their discharge instructions and provide good self-care after they’ve left the facility.

So there is a line of demarcation. You want to have the attitude and the willingness to do ANYTHING for the customer, but it’s rarely the best long-term approach to do EVERYTHING for the customer.

Think about those things that they are well-equipped to do or that they’re going to need to do multiple times in the future. Think about how independent they want to be or need to be. Think about their desire to easily do something and to have the comfort and confidence to be able to take that action.

When you’re considering your approach to customer service, do anything, but not everything.

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Retrain Your Brain – 2/26/19

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


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought:

Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using their phone? Is this customer crazy? I’ve told them 3 times what they need to do to buy this ticket, and they still can’t figure it out!

Sometimes our customers seem crazy. Sometimes they don’t seem like the sharpest tool in the shed. Sometimes what they do or don’t do makes little sense to us. But the reason why we feel that way is often based on looking at things through our lens instead of their lens. Maybe it’s our hundreds and hundreds of similar experiences with similar customers that can leave us jaded, with a negative perspective of our customers.

To deliver a positive customer service experience, we need to have a positive mindset of our customers. But how do we reframe our mental picture of the customer? How do we retrain our brains to look at them and their situations differently?

Creating a Positive Habit
If it takes 21 days for something to become a habit, then we’re going to give you some intentional questions to ask yourself day after day if you find yourself rolling your eyes about your customers or viewing them in a negative light:

  • Instead of focusing on what the customer did wrong, ask yourself: What did the customer do right?
  • Instead of thinking a process is so simple, ask yourself: Was this a piece of cake the first time it was explained to me?
  • Instead of getting frustrated for having to explain steps multiple times, stop and ask yourself: Can the customer explain this to me? By asking the customer to walk you through the steps this time, you can figure out what they understand and what they don’t understand.

 

These are the 3 questions to ask yourself when you feel that frustration boiling or those eyes rolling: What did the customer do right? Was this a piece of cake the first time it was explained to me? Can the customer explain this to me?

What you’re doing with these 3 simple questions is you’re (1) Thinking about something positive the customer has done (2) Trying to be a little empathetic, and (3) Better understanding your customer by becoming more of a listener, less of a talker.

Retrain your brain to reframe your picture of your customers.

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