story

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

Jason Millard did the Right Thing – 6/24/14 TOW

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


It’s living your dream – or at least having the opportunity to compete in the pinnacle of your profession. There’s no guarantee you’ll succeed, but it’s important to at least have the opportunity.

Jason Millard had that opportunity. As a pro golfer, there would have been nothing more exciting than to have had the opportunity to compete in the U.S. Open golf tournament.

Jason had that opportunity. And he gave it away.

Jason was playing in a 36-hole qualifying tournament in Tennessee, and he played well enough to make the U.S. Open field that was to take place just a couple weeks later at Pinehurst in North Carolina. Despite qualifying for this major tournament, Jason didn’t feel right. He wasn’t certain, but he thought that his golf club may have touched the ground in a sand trap – a 2-stroke penalty in the world of golf. He was not sure he did it, and nobody was around to confirm that he did or didn’t ground the club.

After the round, he asked a rules official what to do, and the rules official said it was up to Jason.

For days, Jason continued to practice for this glorious opportunity at the U.S. Open, but his stomach, his nerves, his inner feelings kept eating at him. He wasn’t sure if he had grounded the club, but what if he had done so? If he had, he should have been penalized two strokes and not qualified.

As he began the long drive to the Open on tournament week, about an hour into the drive, he knew he couldn’t continue. It was that one potential thing he might have done wrong that stopped him; whether he grounded the club or not would never have been proven on Twitter or television, never confirmed or denied by a playing partner.

It was all on him.

He decided to call a penalty on himself, and he was disqualified.

Sometimes doing the right thing should occur because it’s the right thing to do – even if there’s short-term pain involved. To be great at customer service, you need to do the right thing – even when nobody is looking over your shoulder, nobody is listening in on your call, nobody is evaluating you at that moment.

Ethics and great customer service go hand-in-hand. They both involve integrity and trust.

Do the right thing, even if nobody is looking.


From a School Office to Your Business – 6/17/14 TOW

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


Theresa has worked in the elementary school office for years, and she loves it. It’s not just that she loves her job; the people she works with, the parents, and the children love her, too. Why? It’s because of the little things – not that a little thing like leaving her chair and walking to the counter to greet a parent is a reason to love somebody. Not that a little thing like kneeling down to get on a child’s level to talk is a reason to love somebody. Not even a little thing like packets she puts together in anticipation of conversations that relate to common needs (such as information for a prospective parent, student placement paperwork, student/parent handbooks for new families) is a reason to love somebody.

It’s not any one “little thing.” It’s the sum total of the little things that she ALWAYS does. It’s the consistency of the approach, the attitude, the welcome, the smile. It’s the all-the-time sense of caring she projects and the pure focus on “you” that she imparts.

Theresa is a real person. These are real stories. And although these are all little things, in society today, it doesn’t always require a home run moment to create a WOW! When you are interacting with recurring customers, it’s often your consistent excellence that creates a WOW! It’s your consistent sense of caring, your continuous willingness to learn, your ongoing responsiveness, and your striving to fix issues quickly that makes that incredible impression.

If you’re looking to WOW your customers, particularly those that are recurring business for your organization, here’s a thought. Stop trying to hit the home run. Find out what you’re good at, what you care about that can benefit the customer, and just become more and more and more consistent about the excellence in service you provide.

Create consistent excellence to create the WOW!


Link and the $5 Mistake – 5/27/14 TOW

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


It was Link’s first job – working in the retail shop – and he enjoyed it immensely. He was learning how a business runs, the importance of the customer to a company’s success, and his role in creating that success. He had these big picture lessons he was learning, even though his pay was minimum wage, and he basically did grunt work and occasionally ran the register.

He was one of those people in a small role, but you could see big things ahead for him.

One day, he was given the responsibility for closing the store and closing out the register. This was many years ago, so there was no credit card machine, and no computer system – it was all manual.

And as Link started shutting things down, he did a quick reconciliation between the cash in the drawer and the register tape. It was off by $5. And then it hit him; he had calculated the change wrong on the last customer of the day, and he gave Ms. Isaacs $5 change when it should have been $10. She was buying some supplies for an out of town trip, so Link knew she’d be gone for a while.

With no car to drive and no phone to call from (this is not that recent a story), he started walking. Block after block, mile after mile toward her house. When he arrived, he apologized to Ms. Isaacs, gave her the additional change, turned, and began the long walk home.

In case it’s not obvious, this is a slight twist on the Abe Lincoln story. But it goes to show that he wasn’t just a great President; he was also great at customer service. He enjoyed the job, looked at it as a learning experience, performed well regardless of the role, and enjoyed engaging his customers. He wasn’t perfect, but he resolved issues quickly, he didn’t make excuses, and he – literally – went the extra mile for his customers.

Abe wasn’t just “Honest.” He was also a really good customer service rep.