story

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

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

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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