story

Should you tell the customer? The Company’s Dilemma - 4/23/19


I have a lot of clients that struggle with this question, both at a company/strategic level as well as an individual representative level. When there is an issue that is going to happen, should you tell the customer? This week we’re going to address the question at the Read more

Customer for Life – The Final Step - 4/16/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Third Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Address what will keep them. Now, we’re sharing the Fourth and Final Step. To have a Customer for Life, you have to grow your relationship with them. While the 3rd step is the Read more

Use the Actions of Empathy - 4/9/19


I firmly believe that the most important personal trait of someone in customer service is empathy. If empathy is understanding the other person, then it’s very difficult to truly serve someone that you don’t understand. Particularly when they’re upset or irate, being empathetic and getting them to Read more

Customer for Life – The Third Step - 4/2/19


Two weeks ago, we addressed the Second Step of keeping a Customer for Life: Never let a relationship go stale – keep the communication going. Now, we’re sharing the Third Step. To have a customer for life, you have to address what will keep them. Read more

Facial Recognition is the Future of Customer Service - 3/26/19


According to a recent New York Times article, facial recognition is the future of retail customer service. A trend in technology for retail businesses is to utilize facial recognition technology in order to better know who is entering your business. The idea is that if somebody within Read more

Customer for Life – The Second Step - 3/19/19


Two weeks ago, we shared a Customer Service Tip on how to get (and keep!) a Customer for Life. We addressed the First Step, Knowing what you need to know about the other person. Now, we’re sharing the Second Step. To develop a relationship with anyone, there has to Read more

Employee Runs for a Dog Run - 3/12/19


I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and Read more

Customer for Life – The First Step - 3/5/19


This should be the goal, right? That our clients today will be our clients tomorrow and well into the future. That their loyalty grows, their business with us grows, their referrals grow, and it is all part of a relationship that grows and develops over time. But what’s the Read more

Retrain Your Brain - 2/26/19


Admit it. You thought about it. You thought: Why in the world did the customer try to assemble that before reading the instructions? Why would they drive all the way down here instead of just checking the website? Why would they go through the drive-thru when they can deposit using Read more

Look Up, or Look Out! - 2/19/19


The clerk called out “next in line!”, and Frannie went to the counter. “Can I have your name?,” the employee asked, but she stared at her computer screen while asking. Frannie stated her name, the time of her appointment, and noted the reason for the appointment. Staring at the screen, 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

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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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