success

Make it Crystal Clear - 5/21/19


Sometimes we communicate so well, and sometimes we don’t communicate as well as we think we do. When you’re trying to set or manage another person’s expectations, what you say may be very clear to you, but the reality is it may not be clear to the other person. Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus...and Golf - 5/14/19


In Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in Read more

Stop Rolling Your Eyes - 5/7/19


Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned. I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over Read more

Should you tell the customer? The Employee’s Dilemma - 4/30/19


Last week we looked at the dilemma that many companies face – When there is an issue that is going to happen, should they tell the customer? This week, let’s address that same question from the employee’s perspective. I personally experience employees struggling with this question when I’m in Read more

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

To Improve Yourself, Hone Your Learning Skills – 4/26/16 TOW

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


Facebook didn’t exist 15 years ago, and now companies provide customer service through it. Millennials weren’t a prevalent customer base 10 years ago, and now they dominate many companies’ customer service approach. In many industries, the customer experience wasn’t seen as vital to the bottom line 10 years ago (and still today to some), and now firms such as CSS are devoted exclusively to Improving Your Bottom Line by Improving Your Customer Service.

Time changes aspects of how we serve and who we serve. So the skills you have today – even if they’re a great fit for your company and customers – aren’t necessarily the skills needed tomorrow.

In order to continuously improve, therefore, we have to continuously learn.

That begs the question: How do you learn?

Here are several key practices to put in place to continuously learn:

  • Identify Stars – Which of your co-workers is best in a certain aspect of what you do? Who has knowledge above others? Find the stars and ask how they are so good and how they stay at the top in performance, skills, or knowledge. If you don’t have someone like that in your organization, find tips, podcasts, or other resources from customer service experts that keep you leading edge.
  • Look at Your Past – What have you done previously that led to success? The saying “those that don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” was focused on failures of the past. But SUCCESS in the past does not guarantee repeat success. What did you do that satisfied that customer, resolved that issue, or retained that client business? Document the “why” behind that success to remember how to replicate it.
  • Debate – Teams make better decisions when there is healthy conflict. They hash out perspectives, uncover ideas, and refine them under the pressure and questioning of debate. For you to tap into healthy conflict in a unique way to learn, identify some topics or types of customers that are challenging. Then talk with co-workers about different approaches for those situations, debating ideas and coming to a consensus on possible best practices. Debate your way to better performance.
  • Measure Yourself – Learn from whatever metrics are important to you, your customer, and your company. Know what truly impacts those measures. Too often people think that hard work alone drives performance, but oftentimes knowing what you do well and focusing your energies on Strengthening Your Strength and avoiding situations where you’re not so skilled is what really moves the needle.
  • Value Complaints – Our first reaction to complaints is often defensiveness, but in the midst of these complaining customers are sometimes nuggets. What can we learn from their complaint, or what drove the complaint, or what you tried to do to resolve it that didn’t calm them down or didn’t work? A complaint can be a gift.
  • Ask Your Customers – What do they think of you, your process, your performance. Ask “How was the experience for you today?” or “Is there anything I could have done better or different in helping you today?” or “Is this the experience you were hoping for today?”
  • Ask Your Clients – I know this sounds like the previous practice, but here I’m defining “client” as a long-term client who knows you fairly well professionally. State “I’m always looking for ways to improve, so I was wondering if you could offer me a little feedback – maybe one thing I do really well and one thing I could do better in some way.”

You may be great today, but remember that tomorrow is another day. Put practices in place to help you stay on the top of your game.

Hone your learning skills.

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Set Time Aside – 4/19/16 TOW

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Many of our clients struggle when changing organizational culture, impacting morale and organizational success, or getting staff to focus on what’s most important. Great ideas are created, but they often don’t become a sustained reality.

The solutions to this issue with real change not occurring or not sustaining often boil down to one key point: You have to set time aside.

Example #1 (Embedding in Education) – A CSS education client is having difficulty embedding some of its Core Values into its culture. They are communicated periodically, activities are developed for leaders to use with staff, but the culture change is slow and inconsistent. One solution that they are now undertaking involves making these Core Values a standing Agenda item for every meeting. At least 5 minutes of every meeting are set aside for some action, story, recognition, reinforcement, or activity that addresses Core Values. Best case, that Core Value agenda item aligns to the meeting goal, but in any case the values are embedded into their existing meeting structures.

Example #2 (Getting Buy-in in Government) – A local government client of ours is trying to accomplish two key goals concurrently: Raise performance and improve morale. One of the big morale issues is that front-line staff felt that decisions were made by a few leaders with no input from the staff charged with implementation. Putting the plans in place was invariably done last minute, resulted in unforeseen issues, created NO staff buy-in, and put stress on staff. The solution? Ongoing Employee Roundtables are being created; leadership is setting time aside on a recurring basis to get staff input and ideas early on when new products, policies, and processes are being considered. This creates buy-in, makes for better ideation, reduces staff stress, and decreases backend fire-fighting post-implementation.

Example #3 (Reviewing Sports Research) – We have worked with a sports client to create a Voice of the Fan research program for its events at multiple venues, but some venues (typically lower performing ones) aren’t using the data as completely as they could and aren’t participating in the post-survey debrief calls. The solution? The client now requires all venues to set aside time for the debrief calls, and the corporate staff participates on the calls. The venue staff are now ending these calls excited by what they learned, knowing how to best use the results, and aware of the retention and revenue growth opportunities available.

So what are your ongoing organizational challenges? Maybe the challenges are not being effectively addressed because time is not being consistently devoted to the topic.

Set Time Aside.

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Go for the Hard Yes Over the Easy No – 4/12/16 TOW

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The customer was telling his business partners about what a great job the lender did for him. Before that, the customer was happy and joking with his account representative, Jay. Before that, Jay was getting him the paperwork that provided the funding the customer needed.

Prior to that, Jay offered the customer a couple options for funding his equipment purchases. Prior to that, in a response to a question from the account representative, the customer told Jay his business goal. Prior to that, Jay said No.

Jay said No because the customer had asked for a specific type of loan for which he wasn’t qualified.

We’re tracking here – we’re tracking back from the positive Word-of-Mouth that Jay was receiving to the inception of the conversation – when the customer asked for something that could not be done.

Jay opted for the “Hard Yes” over the “Easy No.” He said No initially because policy warranted the response, but he moved deeper into the conversation. He probed for the core need. He cared enough to ask the questions that led him to an answer.

Follow Jay’s lead. Go for the Hard Yes over the Easy No.

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