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Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Of Carly Simon and Corey Feldman - 12/4/18


Anticipation. It's a fine song by Carly Simon. She talks about how it (anticipation) is making her late, and it is keeping her waiting. The song is also the theme for the cheesy Corey Feldman 1970s Heinz Ketchup commercial. But that definition of “Anticipation” talks about the Read more

Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve - 11/27/18


It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view. Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may Read more

No Matter How You Say It, Say Thanks! - 11/20/18


Gracias. Grazie. Gratias tibi. Obrigado. Tack. Merci. Danke. Thank You. No matter how you say it, say it. Say Thank You. You can say Thank You in many different languages (shout out to Google Translate for what's written above!). You can say it Read more

Love is never having to say you’re sorry – 11/6/18

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

Love Story – great movie. Alli McGraw. Ryan O’Neal. And a surprisingly poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes – but I digress. The most famous line from the movie is “Love is never having to say you’re sorry…”

Unfortunately, great customer service isn’t about love, per se. Many customers want to hear “I’m sorry” before they can settle down, move on, and forgive/forget.

So how do you say I’m sorry?

The Terrible Transfer – Let’s say that you answer the phone, and the customer immediately tells you they’ve already been transferred 4 times. Consider saying “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. That’s not how we like to do things around here.” Then do the following; either: (A) Make sure you personally take care of the need, (B) Make a “warm” transfer once you identify the employee who can help and that they’re available, or (C) Offer to take their contact information and call them back with the answer.

The Technology Troubles – Let’s say that a customer is trying to understand how to use some technology platform your company provides or navigate your website, and they’re having issues. Consider saying: “I apologize for the difficulties in getting the system working.” You could then offer to walk them through the process on the phone, staying on the line until it works; you could offer to visit them to educate them on the process; you could also provide documentation on the key steps to getting their need addressed.

The Protracted Process – Maybe it’s a situation where a process is taking way too long (whether they want to get an application approved, get a meeting scheduled, get a return or request addressed). You could state: “Sorry that the process it taking longer than anticipated. I’ll personally make sure we get this addressed quickly.” After you’ve received details on the situation, take 2 approaches. First, immediately work on the issue and/or bring in someone to get the need addressed. Second, communicate actions to the customer while the process is in place (to manage expectations and keep them in-the-loop) and when the process is completed (to ensure they know the process was done and to confirm satisfaction).

Unfortunately, great customer service DOES MEAN that sometimes you have to say you’re sorry.

Handle apologies with aplomb.

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Take Away Their Worry – 8/7/18

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


One summer, Janet was given a new chore. She had to take out the trash and recycle bins to the street every Tuesday night so that they could be picked up Wednesday morning. She would go out around 7 or 8 o’clock at night, take the bins out, and come back inside. As summer was about to end, it began getting dark earlier, so Janet began putting the bins out earlier.

Janet was worrying about things. She kept hearing noises and didn’t know what they were, so she decided to at least avoid the darkness when putting out the bins. Her dad asked why she kept going out earlier, and when she explained, he said that the noises were probably some small animals, and she shouldn’t be afraid.

The next week she went out a little later – when it was a little bit darker – and she heard some noises and ran back inside. Her dad asked what was wrong, and when she explained about the noises again, he got out his flashlight, and they walked out together. They heard a noise, he pointed the flashlight in that direction, and it was a squirrel. They walked a few feet and heard another noise, and the flashlight revealed a bunny on some leaves. It was a windy day, and after another noise, the light showed a small branch that had fallen.

What the dad had said a week earlier had been proven true. Janet continued her chore, and she did so at night – and she usually went out with a flashlight.

For our customers, similar to Janet, sometimes things are scary. It could be that patient’s unexpected visit to an urgent care, or possibly that a sports fan was about to make a big payment on season tickets. Maybe that resident was not used to dealing with the government on the tax issue.

If we can tell them what they’re going to experience, it can make them less worried. Better yet, it we can SHOW THEM what’s going to happen – being that flashlight – noting all the steps they could be experiencing through the process, they become even more comfortable.

When you are interacting with a customer on something that may create worry or anxiety, do what Janet’s dad did for her. Patiently describe what the experience will be like; shine the light on the path they’ll be going down to bring down their emotions.

Take away their worry.

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Do Nothing for the Customer, and Make Them Happy – 6/26/18

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


Thomas did nothing for me, and I was impressed. I was walking down the hall at my office a couple weeks back, and Thomas, the maintenance manager, stopped me. Apparently, the people in the office next door were suffering from undo heat in the middle of summer, and I had two cooling vents in my office, one of which was unused. The temperature in my office was absolutely fine, as Thomas had made an adjustment for me a couple years ago.

Thomas asked “Are you going to be in the office at 6 AM tomorrow?”

“No,” I said. Thomas said that he would be in my office at 6 o’clock to switch one of the vents over to the hotter office, and he just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t inconvenience me if he was there from 6 AM to 6:30 AM.

When I walked into my office the next morning, everything felt the same. Virtually everything looked the same except there was a tiny bit of white dust on my desk from the ceiling tiles. Thomas obviously had been in my office, he had left, and according to the people in the office next to me, their office was much cooler because of his work.

Technically, Thomas did not do anything specifically for me. He did it for someone else, but I left impressed. He asked my permission before entering my office. He came in at an exceptionally early time in order to avoid inconveniencing me. He did work that I’m sure was physical and somewhat messy, and yet he left my office looking the same as when he entered.

Sometimes we can impress our customers without doing anything specifically for them.

Consider if you do a great job communicating that certain technology is going to be down for maintenance, and since the customer knows that, they avoid those times and never experience the downtime.

Consider situations where an employee sees you waiting or senses you have a need, and they proactively engage you and let you know what they’re doing and why they might be a couple minutes before they can serve you. Essentially the employee is doing work for others, but you appreciate their consideration of you and your time.

You don’t always need to WOW the customer. Just proactively communicate expectations.

Do nothing for a customer, and make them happy.

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