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

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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When it’s – Truly – Not Your Fault – 6/12/18

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


Jennie was under fire. She was the first line of defense – the front-line worker in the software firm. She didn’t make the software. She didn’t cause it to have errors. She wasn’t the one apparently avoiding the biggest customer’s calls.

Yet, here she was – dealing with the issue, the anger, the emotion of the customer, and it was truly NOT her fault.

This is when you could have one of a number of urges – you can argue, you can ameliorate (an underrated word!), you can obfuscate (nice SAT word!), you can empathize, or you can throw your co-worker or company “under the bus.”

This is the time to hold back on that last urge – don’t take down a co-worker to take down the customer’s emotion. This is when that phrase “you have to be the bigger person” comes into play. The best response to a customer situation is not always what we’d prefer to do. The best response is often not the easiest. The best response isn’t always painless in the short-term.

The best response – when it’s truly not your fault – starts before you get into the technique, the wording, the engagement with the customer. The best response starts before you respond to them – it starts with how you decide to handle yourself.

It’s a matter of having the conscious thought that “It’s not about me. Let me do what’s best for the customer and the company. Let me focus on others – not focusing on who’s to blame (or not to blame, in this case).”

It’s a mindset and a realization that – yes – you have to be the bigger person.

Thanks for what you do as a customer service representative of your organization.

And thanks for what you don’t do – namely throwing your co-worker “under the bus.”

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What to do DURING a Bad Experience – 5/15/18

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


After providing the final research report to a client recently, even though the report provided tremendous detail and a 10-page Executive Summary, the client asked that I cull down the key takeaways to a few bullet points. As I glanced back through the report, there was one exceptionally interesting finding.

As background, this research was for an event that takes place annually. One of our approaches to analysis is to look at the characteristics of last year’s respondents and their individual responses to the survey, then identify which of those attributes strongly correlated to renewal and attendance at this year’s event.

One of the strongest factors impacting renewal to this year’s event was Event-related Communications. Last year’s event was negatively impacted by the weather, and it was interesting that many of the respondents felt better about the overall experience if they felt better about Event-related Communications, and they felt worse about the overall experience if they were not satisfied with the Event-related Communications.

Essentially, when an organization has challenges, a particular event as issues, a product or service has poor quality or lacks timeliness, the importance of effective communication ramps up dramatically.

When things are going bad, it’s better to overcommunicate than under communicate. It’s better to be more proactive and provide information above and beyond about what the issues are, what the resolutions may be, and what timeframes are expected.

It’s not just a good thing to keep customers in the loop, but when significant issues arise, those communications are often the difference between a renewal and a cancellation, the difference between keeping a customer and sending them to a competitor, the difference between a repurchase and lost business.

When you look at your ongoing customer Touch Point Strategies, make sure that there are specific strategies in place that enhance customer communications when the experience goes bad.

Know what to do during a bad experience.

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