sports

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


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 Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

Of Panthers, Bratwurst, and a Greater Purpose – 10/14/14 TOW

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


I’m fortunate to be a season ticket holder of the Carolina Panthers NFL football team. At most games, I grab something to eat in the concourse before I go up to my seat, and the dynamics of the interactions with the staff at the food booths are usually VERY positive. Let me paint a picture…

First, I let my stomach guide me to the right booth (Will it be nachos, a burger, or bratwurst? Decisions, decisions…). Once I select the location – which typically has about 4-5 windows and lines of fans waiting to order, I choose the line, and begin slowly moving toward the front, taking baby steps after each customer is served – nothing special about the experience at this point.

But then it happens – a true customer service 21st century miracle! Are you ready? I get great customer service from (Are you REALLY ready?) people who are paid…NOTHING!

At almost every booth at every game, the booths are manned by volunteers. You can tell by their hats that they’re supporting a local high school marching band or a dance academy or some other organization. The “employees” are volunteers, but the organization gets a piece of the sales revenue.

When you encounter these volunteers, they ask you what you’d like, and they lean in to make sure they heard it correctly. These cashiers relay it to the co-workers to ensure they get the order passed on; the cashiers are always smiling, confirming your order. They’re joking with co-workers. There’s positivity EVERYWHERE!

They like their co-workers and care deeply about getting things right. “Now you wanted chili, is that right, sir?” or “Would you like extra jalapenos – no charge?” or “Was that a diet or regular?” or “Thanks much for coming! The condiments are in that silver station behind you. Enjoy the game!”

You might read this and ask “What’s impressive about this experience?”

These are people working for hours and hours in a tough industry – food services. They are not well-trained, they are on their feet for 4-5 hours at a time, and they’re dealing with sports fans – many of which are getting increasingly intoxicated as the game progresses.

Yet, the volunteers are positive. They convey appreciation. They work as a team with their co-workers. They listen, they confirm, then they get the order right…all without personally earning a dime.

So why are they so good? Because they know the greater purpose in what they do – supporting their kids and the activities their kids love. They know the benefits of their work and who benefits. They and their co-workers have the same goal. They WANT to do a good job for you…and for their kids.

To create a great customer experience, learn from these food service volunteers. Find the greater purpose in what you do.

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My Relatives are Odd…or Maybe I’m the Odd One – 9/23/14 TOW

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Sometimes I don’t understand people – even my relatives. I was sitting next to my teenage daughter last week, and she was playing on her smart phone. I asked what she was doing, and she said that she had created 22 “flash cards” using an app on her phone, and was quizzing herself for her Biology test.

While it was great that she was studying, I thought to myself, “That was odd. I would have just used actual index cards to make flash cards.”

Over the weekend, I was talking with my father-in-law about his lovely new flip phone, and he was telling me about a discussion he had with the service representative at his Verizon store. My father-in-law had gone into the store to pay his bill.

I thought to myself, “That was odd. I would have just paid my bill online.”

I could have concluded that my daughter’s and father-in-law’s actions were odd, or they could have concluded that my way of doing things was odd. But probably the real answer has nothing to do with oddities.

It has to do with differences – generational differences, yes – but also differences that go beyond ’57 Chevy v. Prius, that go beyond black and white television v. HDTV.

Not everybody is like us. In healthcare, just because the nurse likes to talk and socialize with others doesn’t mean that every patient wants the non-stop conversation. In sports, just because the NASCAR fan loves to camp doesn’t mean that every sports fan will drive 600 miles for an event. In government, just because some residents love having a 311 number to dial for service doesn’t mean that everyone prefers to handle their business on the phone.

When you’re considering how to handle this call, this e-mail, or this guest that’s standing in front of you, don’t assume they are just like you.

Ask enough questions to move from assumption to understanding.

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The Customer Decides the Company’s Fate – 9/2/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


Argue with the title if you want – “Nobody decides MY fate!” or “I’m in control of my own life.” or “Our nutty CEO decides our company’s fate.”

Feel free to make whatever argument you’d like to make (and I’m sure many are valid), but here’s my perspective. I’ve worked with local government organizations where community complaints about a particular agency cost the leader his job and cost the municipality millions of dollars in rework that also served as repentance.

I’ve seen professional sports clubs where the dwindling attendance caused executives to lose jobs, or the teams spent millions more than in the past to acquire new fans through marketing, advertising, and sales efforts.

There are so many healthcare organizations today whose CEO is seeing that their government reimbursement is being impacted more and more by the results of patient satisfaction surveys.

In other words, the customer’s voice matters. . .BIG TIME!

That means that we have to listen when they care enough to complain. We have to have a process of frequently soliciting feedback to understand their feelings, perceptions, plans, and suggestions. We have to ask at the end of conversations about experiences so we can fix issues on the spot, and so we can find out what they really liked.

The customer deciding our company’s fate means that once we have them, we have to create a culture that seeks to serve. We have to view them for their lifetime value, not transactional amount. We have to nurture the long-term relationship rather than focusing solely on the task at hand. And we have to become so vital to them, so trusted by them, so much in relationship with them, or so pleasing in their experience with us that – when the fateful decision is made – they decide to stay and grow with us.

In other words, if everyone in the organization truly believes that the customer decides the company’s fate, how would we be different than we are today?

Ask the question, and then live the answer.

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