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Libby Listened to Serve - 7/16/19


Libby was new to her role with the organization. She had never been a customer service representative in a call center before, but she was hired because of her attitude. She wanted to learn, enjoyed working with people, and could carry on a conversation with a wall. After going through Read more

Chris Got Noticed for All the Right Reasons - 7/9/19


Chris was working through a temporary agency, and he got a job at a warehouse. He was packaging items to be shipped out, and his shift didn't start until 7:30 a.m. Chris always got there a little bit early because of the bus schedule, and he hated just sitting Read more

What Does “No News” Mean? Here’s a Quick Story - 7/2/19


Steven was trying to make the purchase of his new used car official, so he could get license tags for his State. In order for the State to allow him to put the vehicle in his name, he had to submit paperwork to prove that the prior owner (from Read more

Are you the Output or the Input? - 6/25/19


You’re the output and the input. Sorry to put it into such technical/industrial engineering terminology. But in a service system, we all have some role as a part of the process. First, we receive the output. Somebody has a customer that they direct to us, so that handoff is from Read more

Hear Them, and Tell Them What You Heard - 6/18/19


CSS has conducted close to 1000 research projects over the years, many of which were web-based surveys. And oftentimes, in addition to or instead of completing the online survey, respondents e-mail us directly with questions or comments – and we respond personally to every message on behalf of our Read more

It’s Decision Time. What are you going to do? - 6/11/19


Serving others is tough. Whether it’s dealing with an irate customer, having to field the same question from the 100th different customer this month, or keeping 10 plates spinning while still smiling in front of the client, it’s hard. You want to do a great job, and you’re constantly put Read more

You Do Know Jack - 6/4/19


Have you ever had a co-worker who causes more problems than they solve? Simple things they do are often, from a procedure standpoint, correct. But the way they handle situations makes them come off as indifferent. Let’s call this co-worker “Jack.” Even though certain actions by Jack may seem innocent Read more

How to Give the Right Kind of “No” - 5/28/19


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our Read more

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

Flip the Script – 6/6/17

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


Patti had had enough. Her cable was out, so she called the cable company, and after holding for close to 20 minutes, she got a call center representative on the phone.

After sharing the problem with the employee, Patti was told that the cause of the issue was in the home. She was told several different steps to take to reboot, reconfigure, or reset her system. Nothing worked.

Unbeknownst to Patti, at the same time, roughly 20 neighbors were also interacting with the cable company, dealing with the exact same issue, and the solutions weren’t working for any of them.

It’s probably apparent to you now what was happening. The 20+ customers couldn’t fix the issues in their homes because the issue wasn’t in their homes. The issue was cable-related outside the homes. Initially, the cable company didn’t know it, so – initially – they wasted their time and the time of the customers in trying to have the customers resolve the unresolvable issue.

Sometimes to see what should be done, we have to look at an example of what should not have been done.

Let’s flip this script.

What if the cable was never down? Or if it was down, what if the company would have sent a notification to customers sharing the concern and the action they were taking to investigate – with a time set for the next communication?

What if Patti called, but the wait was less than one minute, and the employee greeted with a name and an immediate understanding of the issue based on the phone number calling? The employee knew about the communication the company had sent, was empathetic, patient, and apologetic. What if the employee explained the process of researching the issue, provided typical resolution timelines (or at least reasonable expectations), and promised a follow-up e-mail at the customer’s request?

One interesting and easy way to envision great customer service is to first envision or discuss a horrible experience. Break down what went wrong, and then build up an example experience that would illustrate what it would have looked like had everything gone right.

To get better, flip the script.

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Going from Negative to Nirvana – 5/2/17

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

I hate dealing with the phone company. Or the utility company. Don’t even get me started on the cable providers.

It’s often frustrating, prolonged, and not the least bit customer friendly.

When I had to embark on a conversation with one of the phone providers about issues with my landline billing, I called the customer service number on the bill. The person answered fairly quickly, was friendly, said they couldn’t help, and they would transfer me to someone who could. The phone rang twice, and a different employee picked up.

I asked if the first employee had explained my issue, and she said “No.” So I explained everything again from scratch. She, too, was friendly, and she, too, couldn’t help. She worked in the wireless area, and my question was about my office landline, so she had to transfer me.

The phone rang once, and it went into a queue. Thankfully it was answered in less than one minute by Jeffrey. As with the other employees, he was very friendly and greeted me professionally. I asked if the second employee had explained my issue, and Jeffrey said “No, unfortunately I didn’t receive a warm transfer.” I told him I was frustrated about having to keep repeating the same issue, and he apologized; then I explained everything again from scratch.

This is when the negative experience went to positive. Here are several things Jeffrey did:

  • He was patient with my description of the issue.
  • He asked questions to clarify my concern and related need.
  • He offered a resolution but asked if he could put me on hold for 2 minutes to confirm with his supervisor.
  • I was on hold less than 2 minutes.
  • He clarified the resolution and confirmed I wanted to go that route.
  • He asked if I had time to stay on the line for him to make the account changes.
  • During downtime (when the system was processing), he asked about my business, my location, sports interests based on my location, etc. He shared a little about himself as well.
  • He told me what e-mails I would start receiving from the company and confirmed I’d received them.
  • He sent me an e-mail from his account so I’d have his contact information for follow-up.
  • He told me what next steps would occur and within what timeframe.
  • He was patient with my numerous questions and didn’t close until he confirmed I had all the questions answered.
  • He closed by thanking me for my business and reminded me to please contact him when a certain item was shipped so he could help me with the final steps.

 
This was a situation that started with two friendly people but a lousy experience. Then one employee patiently, proactively, and personally turned it all around.

Find ways for your company to better communicate internally so the customer has a better experience. And learn lessons from Jeffrey to move from negativity to customer service nirvana.

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How to Show the Opposite of Indifference – 4/25/17

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


Sometimes the best way to define a word is to say it’s the opposite of another word – and then define that other word.

What is darkness? It’s the absence of light.

What is lethargic? It’s the opposite of energetic – where you move and you have the capacity to move. Imagine remembering people’s names easily, getting work done – the right work at a high pace; imagine maintaining your focus and your positive attitude all day long.

Now let’s define a key customer service word by painting a picture of opposites. Many studies have noted that – roughly 68% of the time – the primary reason customers stop going to Company A and move to Company B is that they perceive Company A is indifferent to them.

Therefore the question is: What is indifference?

  • It’s the opposite of responsiveness, where you quickly reply to messages, immediately take action on issues, and effectively manage customer expectations.
  • It’s the opposite of proactivity – where you initiate conversations with clients, even when you know the conversation is going to be on a difficult subject.
  • It’s the opposite of engagement – where your eyes, your gestures, your body language, and your tone convey interest in the other person and their situation.
  • It’s the opposite of caring – where the customer feels like you are concerned with their issues, needs, goals, and feelings.
  • It’s the opposite of follow-through, where you ensure the client got that need addressed.

 
If indifference is such a retention-killer for a business, do whatever you can to ensure you’re not perceived in that manner.

Show responsiveness, proactivity, engagement, caring, and follow-through.

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