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6 Common Sense Responses to Customer Service Encounters - 6/30/20


I’ve run into this personally and professionally, and it drives me batty! Sometimes there’s a lack of common sense in the customer service provided by companies. And often that lack of common sense is due to the preference of a business to provide service in a certain method, to Read more

Caring for Co-workers through COVID - 6/23/20


A recent Buffer.com study asked employees who are working remotely due to COVID-19, what was their greatest struggle. While there were many different responses, the Top 2 totaled 40% of the struggles identified - Loneliness and Collaboration/Effective Communication. When you hear something like this - that individuals working remotely are Read more

React, Reflect, Respond - 6/16/20


Sometimes you can’t help it. You gasp. You get upset. You get angry. You have this look of shock on your face. You say something defensive. You react. I love people who are in customer service roles. These are the folks that people say things to in the business world Read more

Serving the Technology-challenged Customer - 6/9/20


The IT helpdesk representative was on a call with a customer, and in trying to troubleshoot an issue, the employee said, “Let’s start by opening Windows.” The customer said “OK,” and there were 2 minutes of silence. The employee twice asked, “Are you still there?” with no response. Finally, Read more

Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience


This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the Read more

The Deeper Reason to Transform the Customer Experience - 6/2/20


Why are government offices putting up plexiglass between their staff and their customers?  Why is restaurant takeout being done in such a way that is contactless and yet still fosters engagement between the employee and customer?  Why have so many traditionally onsite businesses converted to delivery businesses? The answer is Read more

Motivating Yourself when Working Remotely - 5/26/20


For any of us who are working remotely, we are finding ourselves more and more having to be self-motivated. And while many people are naturally self-motivated, others need to have that manager who gives us the encouragement. Many of us need to have that ongoing informal dialogue with co-workers Read more

Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty


You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of Read more

Change Management – Facts about Past Decisions Reduce Fear about Future Decisions


Change can result in fear.  Particularly where change is thrust upon someone very suddenly, it can create shock or disbelief.  Sometimes that change is not something an organization can plan for; it therefore cannot adequately prepare its employees for what’s ahead...at least initially. In this COVID world, Change Management is Read more

Tire Dealers Becoming Teachers - 5/19/20


I recently needed two new tires for a vehicle, and I first went to the tire dealer’s website to find some options.  The site’s look/feel and ordering process had changed, and I didn’t see a tire I wanted, so I called the store to make an appointment. When I arrived Read more

Turn it Off – 12/27/16

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


Prior to starting Customer Service Solutions, Inc., I worked as an internal consultant in a large urban hospital. To help the leadership quickly gauge overall performance of individual departments and create a focus on key metrics for individual department heads, my team was charged with creating “Excellence Reports.” These were brief reports which highlighted the 1-3 most important metrics for each department.

For the first 12-18 months, my team compiled the metrics and created reports, and the reports fostered great dialogue with department heads about how to use the information, the causes of downward trends, and how to best share the information.

Then for about a 2-month stretch, it was crickets. I received no questions or feedback from any department heads. So I went to my COO, told him the situation, and asked what he’d suggest. I thought he’d recommend creative ways to re-engage the managers, to reconfigure the reports, or to adjust my communications.

Instead, the COO said “Turn it off.”

“What?”, I replied. He said “Turn it off. If they start calling and asking where the Excellence Reports are and are wanting the data, then you can inquire about how it’s being used, it’s value, etc.”

So I turned them off. One month passed – no contact from managers. Two months passed – no contact from managers. The crickets continued.

Sometimes we start something in work that has great purpose and value, but if we’ve been holding that meeting, sending that memo, creating that report for years, at some point we have to question if it’s still of value to others, if it’s still worth my time to produce, if it really helps me to better serve my customers.

If not, then consider turning it off. It could save everyone time and release at least one of the many things you’re responsible for in the new year.

Once in a while consider turning it off.

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Don’t Let 2 Great Employees Deliver a Lousy Experience – 12/13/16

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When Daymond called his local auto service center, he needed to talk to someone in the parts department. A couple items on his SUV had broken recently, and he knew he could replace them himself. Daymond spoke with Marty, who was very patient, found Daymond’s car in the system, and identified the VIN to get the exact right part in the right color. It took Marty several minutes to determine what was available, but Daymond appreciated the effort. They had the rear window washer nozzle in stock, but they didn’t have the luggage rack cover available; Daymond could pay for both when he arrived, and they’d order the rack cover at that time. It was an 8-10 minute conversation, and Daymond was pretty happy about the game plan.

Upon his arrival an hour or so later, Daymond was greeted by a very friendly employee named Janet. Daymond noted that he spoke with Marty and was there to pick-up the parts. Janet then started asking the same questions about the auto, looking for the VIN in their system. Daymond – interjected – “Is Marty here? I had this discussion about an hour ago, and he has all the information; I’m just here to pick up, pay, and go.”

“Unfortunately, he’s not here,” Janet replied.

“Did he take notes and leave the parts for me?” asked Daymond.

“I don’t see any notes on paper or in the system, so I guess not,” said Janet.

So Janet proceeded through the same questions, the same 8-10 minute conversation repeated over again, and the same result was delivered as Marty promised. Daymond walked away with one part in hand and one ordered.

If Daymond was to have judged either Marty or Janet individually, he would have given them relatively high marks; however, when he judged the experience, the score would have been low. It was redundant – where he was asked and he answered the same questions twice. To either employee, it may have seemed like a normal encounter, but it wasted some customer time, created customer frustration, and was also inefficient from the organization’s perspective. In other words, it wasted staff time, too.

The next time you talk with a customer, if they tell you that they’ve already told someone their story, please apologize to them. But don’t stop there. Find out how a customer can be put in a position to tell the same thing to multiple people; then find ways to eliminate the redundancy.

Don’t let two great employees deliver a lousy experience.

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Build Rapport to Build Your Business – 12/6/16

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


Story 1: The worried spouse called the gambler’s hotline because she was afraid her husband had a gambling problem. He had been spending lots of money on it, staying out later and later. When the hotline representative answered the call, the representative was calm and empathetic about the situation. She asked appropriate questions and gave the wife time to explain her situation. The caller was comfortable with the advice being offered and ended the call with some clear next steps, resources available, and someone she could trust to call again. She eventually utilized their resources.

Story 2: The nurse at the primary care clinic met Fred – a new patient that had switched clinics because of insurance purposes. The nurse wasn’t rude, but she didn’t smile, didn’t introduce herself, and never used the patient’s name after calling Fred in from the waiting room. She spent the entire time in the exam looking at her computer. When the doctor entered the room to meet Fred for the first time, there wasn’t necessarily tension, but there was a reserved, guarded, impersonal feel to the conversation. Fred considered finding another doctor.

Story 3: Marie needed to buy a new car, and she knew that her credit union had an auto buying service. The people at the credit union had always been friendly and she trusted them, so she decided to give it a shot. After a call and several e-mails, she noticed that no matter to whom she spoke, they were always responsive and consistently pleasant – almost happy! They gave her many details, explained processes, provided links to specific sites on the web, and were patient with Marie’s questions. She bought the car through their service.

These are three stories that had some success (Stories 1 and 3) and a probable fail (Story 2). These are all stories about the need to establish rapport. Maybe the quality of the services in Story 1, the physician’s skills in Story 2, or the auto purchase terms in Story 3 were no better or worse than the alternatives that could be considered, but the decisions to move forward with those businesses were made largely on the rapport that the employees established.

Rapport can lead to credibility, comfort, confidence, and – in the end – a decision to do business with an organization (or not).

Build rapport to build your business.

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