telephone

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

Know the Customer’s Value Proposition - 2/12/19


I’ve written about how it’s important to build up your co-workers when talking to customers. When the nurse is getting ready to send the patient down to radiology, she lets the patient know what great work and great care that the radiology tech provides. When the teller contacts a Read more

Paint a Picture, Take a Picture - 2/5/19


Many of us are visual learners. In order for us to understand the concept, we need to be able to see the concept illustrated. And by seeing the concept illustrated, I’m not just talking about taking something that somebody says and merely typing it into an email. I don’t Read more

Recipe for Reputation Rehab - 1/29/19


As another corporation is trying to recover from self-inflicted reputation wounds, it is seeking to get back in the good graces of consumers. It’s laying out a 6-point plan to improve its performance, but – in the end – publicizing this plan is also about rehabilitating its reputation. Read more

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Need Telephone Troubleshooting Tips? Here You Go! – 9/13/16

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


I received a request for help from an Information Technology call center representative. She wanted to better herself, but she had no access to corporate training. However, she clearly knew her needs – she had difficulty troubleshooting issues on the phone with customers.

She was communicating purely verbally – no written instructions for the user, no body language to read or convey. The representative sometimes got lost in the details of the issue, so it’s hard to help a novice user if the representative herself has difficulty keeping all the facts clear and top-of-mind. Also, the representative wasn’t always certain where the user was on the system versus where the representative expected the user to be during the resolution process.

So the representative wanted guidance – what were specific, tactical things she could do to better resolve issues on the phone? Here are some thoughts – although they’re written through the I.T. lens, they apply to any telephone troubleshooting situation:

  • Tell the customer that you’re going to ask several questions, and note why you’re asking (i.e., the better you can specifically know the issue and cause, the better you can give them the right solution).
  • Be patient with the customer – they probably are frustrated and may be overwhelmed.
  • Avoid acronyms and “tech terms” – the customers are probably not as knowledgeable as you.
  • Get to the root cause before you get to the solution. That way you can address it the first time without backtracking through resolution steps to alternative solutions.
  • If you get lost in the details, draw a picture of the issue and resolution process on a piece of paper (almost like a flow chart) while talking with the customer. That way, you don’t have to rely on your memory; you can see everything on one page. Possibly have standard bubbles on the paper that address key points including: hardware system, application/software, timing (time of day, day of week), frequency (first time or recurring), system messages, key issue occurring, etc.
  • If you have trouble explaining to the customer how to troubleshoot, walk them through the typical flow on your paper. Then, after each question or step they complete, confirm with the customer that they understand. Never go to Step 5 until you’re certain they’re done with Step 4 and you know where they are after Step 4.

Review these quick telephone troubleshooting tips, and tailor them to make the issue resolution process better for you and your customers.

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Flip the View of Your Process – 2/24/15 TOW

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


The customer complains that they had to go through 6 phone menus, some of which didn’t make any sense, and then they waited 8 minutes to get to an employee who asked for the same account information that the customer just keyed into the phone. The employee wonders why the customer is so upset, after all, the employee had a great tone of voice and read the script perfectly when he answered the phone!

To the employee, the encounter just started, but to the customer, the encounter started 20 minutes ago when they were looking for an answer on the website and then – in frustration – called the company only to wade through the phone menus and sit on hold – again – for 8 minutes.

It’s tiring just writing about it; imagine how frustrating it was to experience it!

I’m not painting a picture of anything you haven’t experienced as a customer in your personal life. This happens every day, in every industry, MILLIONS of time each week.

Many companies claim to want processes that are “customer-friendly,” but too often the reason why they are not “customer-friendly” is that they were designed looking only internally – like conducting a 1980s style flow chart analysis.

What is the rework we can eliminate? Where is the redundancy that we can streamline? Where is the waste to remove? Where is the manual step that we can automate?

While these are all excellent questions, too often they’re asked purely from the company’s perspective. Then we design a process and implement it, only to later wonder why customers complain so much about the process! To them, it’s frustrating, it’s cumbersome, it’s not clear.

So what’s the process solution? Look at that wonderful process flow that looks so clean from the company’s perspective, and – instead of implementing it as is – flip it to view it from the customer’s perspective.

What’s that journey like that the customer undertakes? When do they find the need to contact you? How do they decide to look for you? How do they start tracking down answers or tracking you down?

We call this step part of our Customer-focused Process Redesign methodology, but you can also do this using mystery shopping or using customer focus groups and interviews. There are many methodologies to use in improving a process, but to make that new process part of a great experience, incorporate the voice of the customer.

Flip the view.

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