telephone

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

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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