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

Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate – 10/18/16

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


One of the greatest skills someone in customer service can develop is the ability to ask questions – the right questions in the right way at the right time for the right purpose.

Asking questions allows you to control conversations, stay productive, learn a great deal, establish rapport, make the other person feel important, and get you what you need to help the customer.

As a part of a mystery shopping engagement with a client, we have recently run into two different employee examples of asking questions.

Rita is excellent. She knows the questions she has to walk through, but prior to asking the caller the questions to uncover their true need, she stated “Is it OK if I ask you some questions? I just want to get a better idea of how we can help you.” Then she moved into her questions, occasionally doing follow-up to what the caller had said. Rita came off to the caller in a positive manner – inquisitive, caring, patient, and helpful.

Bill wasn’t so great. After hearing an opening statement from the caller, he started asking question after question, never following up to what the caller stated. Never stating “that’s helpful” or “interesting point.” The questions always followed his script, and the conversation didn’t flow. If sounded more like a tennis match with a grunt with each swing of the racket than a flowing conversation. Bill came across as impatient – like he was interrogating the caller.

It’s great to ask questions of the customer – that’s how you learn; that’s how you understand the specific situation to better provide the specific answer or solution or product. But set up the questions with a statement of what you’re about to do and why; then let the questions flow as part of the conversation.

Make this skill a true strength for you and a positive experience for your customer.

Be Inquisitive – Don’t Interrogate.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page


A Story of Above and Beyond, Olives, Ellies, and Giant Babies – 9/20/16

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


A giant baby store – let me rephrase – a baby store that’s huge (like a big box retailer, not a store for giant babies) can be intimidating for first-timers. So much merchandise, so many options, so much selection – all to care for an 8-pound little human.

These stores can also be intimidating for those who are very experienced with babies – although the most recent personal experience was decades ago. To whom am I referring? Yes, grandmothers.

Ellie is such a person – a wonderful grandmother who was invited to a neighbor’s baby shower, which meant a visit to the dreaded baby superstore. When Ellie entered, she thought she knew what she wanted, but she was overwhelmed with the store size and selection. Standing there in the cavernous confines of the store – looking around, partly amazed and partly bewildered, Ellie was greeted by Olive – an employee.

Olive asked Ellie if she could help, and Ellie described the first item she needed; then Olive walked with Ellie to the other side of the store and found the gift. Olive asked if Ellie needed anything else. There was one more item, and that resulted in a trek to a different part of the store.

Then Olive walked Ellie to the front to check-out, and as they reached the cashiers, Ellie noticed a table with giftwrap. Ellie asked what the table was for, and Olive noted that customers are welcome to wrap their gifts for free after purchase.

“Wow! That’s a great idea. Since you did such a good job of helping me with everything else,” Ellie said, “maybe you could wrap for me, too!” Ellie and Olive laughed, Ellie said thanks for the help, and she paid for her items.

As Ellie got her items together to leave the store, Olive showed up, greeted Ellie, and said “I’ll be happy to wrap those for you!”

“Oh no. That’s not necessary,” Ellie replied. “I was just joking.”

“But it was a great idea – I’m happy to help,” Olive finished.

So Olive wrapped the gifts, Ellie went on her way, and there was a story set to be retold numerous times.

Service Excellence is often about treating people special. Treat a customer special by doing for them that which they could do for themselves.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page


Where Do You Hang Your Customer Service Hat? – 8/30/16

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


When I work with Billy (one of our tech team members) on a survey, he is ultra responsive to e-mails, replying quickly, answering my questions, and providing guidance.

Karen is a joy to work with on project. She’s very organized, exceptional at planning, and before I ask for a status or request an update, she sends it to me – as if she’s reading my mind.

Robin juggles many balls as the office manager. She’s got billing, staff supervision, issues with office equipment, and other activities to address on a daily basis. But when she’s talking to a tenant, it’s as if she has only one job – making that individual feel like the most important person in the world.

When I talk with Mary Elizabeth and share a potential partnering opportunity, she’s very excited – for ME! To her, it’s about what she can do to help me, not what she can get out of it.

Chess is always trying to make things better. When he asks a question, comes up with an idea, or makes a suggestion, it’s always done to improve the service to his clients, develop his staff, or support me in some way.

These are my quick perspectives on five individuals I work with all the time. Some are partners, some are customers, and in some cases – I’m the customer. But regardless of what the main relationship is, at some point I’m serving them or they’re serving me. It’s an ongoing customer service mindset they have regardless of whom they’re addressing.

The perspectives I have on them are based on my assessment of our interactions – my evaluation of their approach to communicating with and serving others.

What do your clients and co-workers think of you when assessing your service? What’s your personal customer service brand?

Identify where you “hang your hat” in customer service – make it what makes you different/special.

Hone your own customer service brand.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page