story

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

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, 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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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