story

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

The Bad Host – 10/24/17

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


True story: The young couple and their child walked into the restaurant and stood for a minute at the host stand. When the host arrived, she immediately and quickly said “I can’t seat you right now. I’ve got to clean a table, and you’re just going to have to wait.”

Now read that statement again out loud (if you can); read it without a smile; read it with a high tone of voice; read it very fast.

This was something I witnessed several times in various forms over 45 minutes. The employee was obviously flustered. She seemed overwhelmed, and she was letting every customer know through her interaction. No greeting; no smile; no welcoming attitude – it was blunt, fast, direct.

When she made her statement to this family, the wife politely said, “Thank you for letting us know.” She then turned around and walked out, followed by the child and husband. Two other families walked out. Lost business, hurt reputation for the restaurant, and probably a couple postings on social media followed.

Who knows what the root cause of the issue was for this employee. Maybe she was just having a bad day; a co-worker or employee could have been rude to her. She may have been short-staffed or overwhelmed with the number of guests arriving. Maybe she was just a bad fit for that role.

Regardless of the reason for the issue, she should not have taken it out on customers just walking in the restaurant, hoping to have a relaxing, tasty meal with family and friends.

Sometimes we just need to be more self-aware when things aren’t going our way. It’s fine for us to have emotions – we’re all human. But also being human we have the ability and responsibility not to take out these frustrations on others – particularly innocent customers and co-workers.

Don’t be the Bad Host – check your emotions before connecting with others.

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Appreciation Multiplies – 9/19/17

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


Aaron did a GREAT job on the project! Working in the graphics shop at the company, he would help his internal customers address many different design and production needs. But there was something a little different this time.

This time, Jackie – his customer – sent a note of appreciation to Aaron’s boss after the project was completed. The boss – Mark – replied to Jackie and noted how consistently high quality is Aaron’s work. Mark noted how patient and calm Aaron is with customers. And Mark highlighted how Aaron’s customers feel “cared for” and “confident.”

Mark said that he’d share Jackie’s kudos in their monthly department newsletter and share the feedback with his entire team at their next meeting.

Aaron didn’t do good work for Jackie to get all this appreciation, but the appreciation still came. From Jackie. From Mark. Through e-mails and newsletters and meetings. In specific descriptions and in sincere tones. Appreciation came.

But what’s more, appreciation multiplied. The Thank You’s not only came in many forms, but many people now heard what attributes are appreciated by customers and what behaviors are desired by leadership.

When you are appreciative of the efforts of others, remember that conveying appreciation is a necessary thing, a good thing. Sharing that appreciation lets the other person know what they did and how they did it was “spot on.”

And sometimes, that appreciation multiplies.

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A Dent for Dana – 5/16/17

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


There was no hot water in the house when Dana got home from work, so she walked downstairs to the basement to find a mini flood. Apparently a neighbor had put so much yard waste into a sewer drain that – after a heavy rain – water got backed up…and flowed right into Dana’s basement – yuck.

More than that, the water rose high enough to burn out the hot water heater – a wet basement and no hot water…joy.

But Dana had a good attitude about it; the water and gas utilities came out quickly to find the cause of the problem and to diagnose the issue with the water heater. In the end, the yard waste was cleared out, the water level went down, and there was no other lasting damage – except for a dead water heater.

Dana contacted two companies, and the winner was selected to install the new water heater. The installers were nice, discussed the process with Dana, and worked independently in the basement as Dana worked upstairs. When they were finished, they left. How did Dana know they left? She saw them driving away.

So she checked the water, and it was starting to warm. Then she went downstairs to look at the beautiful new water heater, and it had a big dent in the bottom. Dana’s heart sunk. “I didn’t pay for a used water heater.” “I hope it’s not damaged inside.” “I hope it’s safe, and the gas lines aren’t compromised.”

Dana frantically began googling and after about 30 minutes realized it was probably just a cosmetic issue, but she was still frustrated, upset, disappointed – you name it. She called the company, and the manager said he’d check with the installers and call Dana back.

When they called back, the manager stated that they dented it during the install, but it was just cosmetic – no internal issues. He offered a discount to Dana on any future service.

While there are a lot of issues with this true customer service story, here’s where I’m focused. This customer had just purchased something new, something to address an issue she didn’t cause with the basement flooding. Yet, through it all she had a good attitude.

Then the employees dented the water heater, didn’t tell the customer, and drove off – leaving Dana having spent hundreds of dollars to alleviate an issue only to have that resolution cause her anxiety, frustration, and upset.

Nobody’s perfect; we all make mistakes; accidents happen (Yes, I’m rolling out every excuse – uh, “explanation”). But that does not mean that accidents are irrelevant.

We need to own up to our mistakes with customers; be willing to apologize – even for the accidents. Initiate the conversation with the customer and be willing to say “I’m sorry,” even before the customer knows there’s an issue.

It’s about being proactive and professional.

Learn from the Dent in Dana’s Water Heater.

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