success

A Hair-Cut Above...and Below - 2/11/20


After going to the same barber for more than a decade, I decided to leave.  The customer experience went down, and the price went up.  For my last several visits, I was the one who was driving the conversations – when I could get a word in edgewise between Read more

When Employees Fight Over a Customer - 2/4/20


There’s nothing like the feeling of comfort I get from a warm greeting at a business establishment.  A feeling of “you are my most important customer” and “I cannot wait to serve you” brings a tear to the eye of a customer service consultant.  But that’s not the only Read more

LOTS of Opportunities to Appreciate Customers - 1/28/20


They give us their money, and we give them merchandise. We say “Thank you!”  That is the old-time stereotypical opportunity for a company to thank their customers.  But there are opportunities all day long for us to convey appreciation to our customers. Beyond the actual transaction, there are so many Read more

When Jack Gave Arnie a Tip - 1/21/20


Jack Nicklaus may have been the greatest golfer ever.  Many think that Arnold Palmer was the most important golfer of the 20th century.  These two greats were contemporaries, so they became competitors and friends all at once.  And when somebody who is one of the greatest of all time Read more

Make it Abundantly Clear - 1/14/20


Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were Read more

Become the Wishing Well - 1/7/20


When you don’t know if the next step will solve the customer’s problem, give hope a chance.  If you’re not certain how things will progress on their project, give hope a chance.  If you want to end the conversation by having them feel positive, even if uncertain, give hope Read more

Why Silence is Golden - 12/31/19


In the world of customer service, to begin finding a resolution, sometimes we have to initiate conversation. To keep things moving forward, oftentimes we have to proactively engage in discussion.  To have effective dialogue, we need to avoid those long periods of dead silence. But don’t let those truths of Read more

2019 Holiday Poem - 12/24/19


There is joy absolutely everywhere, Sometimes you just need to look for it. There are birds and babies. There are flowers and sweet older ladies. You just have to look for them. People hold doors open for others, with smiles. There are days when you can see for miles. You just have to look for them. There Read more

Encourage the Customer - 12/17/19


Everybody sing with me:  Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings… Excellent old song, and be thankful that I’m just writing the words and not singing to you.  While not all of us are comfortable with discussing feelings, feelings are an important part of the customer experience. No, you can’t make someone feel Read more

Hearing is Believing - 12/10/19


“I just want to be heard.” When I work with clients whose customers are the community, this is a phrase I’ve heard far too often from residents.  For retail businesses and other industries where there are many choices, often customers will take their business elsewhere instead of complaining.  But with Read more

When It’s Definitely Okay to Fail – 2/23/16 TOW

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


Do you ever encourage failure? Do the leaders in your organization say “please fail?”

While rarely – if ever – should failure be the goal, fear of failure can lead to mediocrity. Avoiding the potential for failure can lead to inaction. And in a competitive world, it’s ironic that mediocrity and inaction eventually lead to that same failure that a company (or individual) is trying to avoid.

I heard a basketball coach recently mention that success in the game is built off many failures in the practices. In a business sense, success in serving a customer is often built off trial and error in a company’s “practice sessions.” A successful journey toward a goal often involves healthy conflict and creative ideas tossed aside for even better ideas.

It’s okay to fail in a company’s practice sessions. It’s okay to have healthy conflict and toss good ideas aside for better ideas.

Those failures are what make greater success possible.

What are your company’s practice sessions? Are they role-plays on customer situations? Is it user-testing of a new web portal? Is it piloting a new process or approach to serving customers?

What are your company’s idea-generation sessions? Are they robust enough that there’s conflict and deep, thought-provoking discussion? Are enough ideas being generated that the good can be set aside for the better, and the better tabled in favor of the best?

Identify in what you need to succeed as an organization. Then create opportunities to practice possible situations. Develop and debate ideas to move toward the best solution.

Create opportunities to fail so that you can move closer to success.

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Build Your Customer Service Energy – 12/29/15 TOW

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


I am NOT a high energy person. It started late in college when my mom actually had me tested for anemia because I complained about being tired. First of all, I never knew there was such a test. Second, I learned it doesn’t pay to complain. I was hoping it was just a case of being a Senior in college and having a few too many late nights, but it turned out to be just who I was…and am.

Although I’m fairly laid-back, when I give a speech or facilitate a workshop on customer service, culture change, or client retention – participants invariably compliment me on my energy level.

But how can this be?

Maybe it’s adrenaline, but – even if it is – it’s adrenaline that comes from being with people I sincerely want to help, people whose questions and concepts make my synapses fire! It’s about engaging others in dialogue, in conversation – it’s about getting to know others to the point that you want to help them.

Maybe you’re not the highest energy person, and all the espresso and 5-hour ENERGY shots won’t help you sustain energy with customers. Instead, take a different approach.

View an interaction with a customer or co-worker as an opportunity to sincerely help someone. It’s an opportunity to engage with a unique and often very interesting person. It’s a situation where you’re having an intellectual discussion or personal conversation – it’s dialogue and engagement.

Each “Moment of Truth” is an opportunity for you to help others, learn a little more about the world, and share a little of yourself with the world.

Almost irrespective of the topic, each interaction is one of life’s little moments – and those little moments and the opportunities that they provide to engage others are energy-building opportunities.

Use the opportunity of the engagement to build your customer service energy.

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Teach People How to Teach You – 7/7/15 TOW

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


I was privileged to be at a school district’s leadership conference recently, and a portion of the morning activities included a student panel talking about their experiences (good and bad) during their time in the school system.

One of the students – a high schooler who was blind – noted his frustration when he entered middle school because the teachers didn’t know how to teach someone who couldn’t see. So the student decided that at the start of each semester, he would write a letter to the teachers that told them how to teach him.

Imagine that – a student telling a teacher how to teach him – incredible story and brilliant idea by this young man; the idea enhanced his learning and the experience for the teachers as well.

This is a story from which we can all learn a lesson.

Maybe you don’t have the greatest boss in the world – they’re not great at asking what you need to be successful, or they’re not the best at growing your professional skills and getting the most out of you.

Find ways – a letter, a chat over coffee, an informal sit-down meeting in a conference room – to tell them about how to best work with you for their benefit, your benefit, and the benefit of the company and customer.

Let’s look at a different application of this story. What could you learn by asking the customer how you can best help them? Instead of telling them that you’ll send an e-mail follow-up, ask how they’d like you to communicate with them. Instead of mapping out your own relationship development plan, ask what’s the best way for you to learn about them to ensure you best know their needs and goals. Instead of telling them how they can learn more about your products, services, and customer service resources, ask how they’d like to learn about them.

Learn from this inspiring student – teach others how to teach you.

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