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I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

Don’t Mistake Kindness - 9/3/19


I have a friend who does a lot of things for a lot of other people. He sometimes has a hard time saying “no,” and he really works hard to try to be kind to others. But occasionally some of those for whom he does good works will ask Read more

Do Anything, but Not Everything - 8/27/19


We work with a lot of educational organizations, but this Tip of the Week applies to virtually any kind of business that has repeat customers. To deliver great service, be willing to go above and beyond, do virtually anything for the customer. But in the world of colleges and Read more

Be Generous to a Fault - 8/20/19


People who think they’re generous to a fault usually think that’s their only fault – American Journalist Sydney Harris. This quote reminds me of someone who views themselves as a giver – someone who is so humble that he likes to humbly tell everyone of the gifts he’s given, good Read more

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

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

You Control with Questions – 3/22/16 TOW

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


They’re irate, ranting and raving – spewing the emotion your way.

They. Just. Won’t. Stop. Talking.

They’re rambling with no clear point or need or concern being conveyed.

You’re enjoying the discussion, but you have LOTS of other things to do.

If you find yourself in these situations with a customer or co-worker, you’re not alone. There are times when you need to get control of the conversation. They’re upset and you need to get the emotions down to begin moving toward a resolution. They’re talking non-stop, and you need to begin closing the conversation. There’s a lot being said but no real point being shared. Sometimes you just have other work that is being delayed by the conversation.

People who are great at customer service are inquisitive. But they’re not just inquisitive because they’re curious. They’re asking questions because they know that questions provide control.

Too many employees try to gain control by talking fast (not letting the customer speak), interrupting the other person, talking loudly, or using rude body language. But questions provide a much more professional way of taking control.

Your objective questions help you to get the kind of thinking and facts that draw down emotions. Your close-ended questions help to elicit shorter responses. Your targeted questions get at the key point or need. And your questions help you to become more productive by closing conversations more quickly.

You’re not using the questions to control the other person. Rather, you’re using questions to gain control of the emotions and direction of the conversation itself.

Become an expert at asking questions.

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Meet Them Where They’re At – 3/15/16 TOW

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I was watching an old episode of the television show “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and Ray was chastised by his mother because he said “That’s where I got to be where I’m at.” She was horrified that he – a professional writer – ended a sentence with a prepositional phrase (or as Ray put it, a “propositional phrase”).

Well I’m making the same grammatical error in this Tip of the Week – Meet Them Where They’re At.

It’s hard to quickly create a relationship with someone, but people in customer service need to know how to quickly establish rapport. A rapport is established where there is a sense that people care about each other’s feelings and thoughts.

To create a rapport with a customer, one key is meeting them where they’re at – If they’re standing, you stand. If they’re looking concerned, you look concerned. If they’re standing in another part of the room pointing at something as they talk to you, go to them. If they’re jovial, loosen up. If they’re speaking softly, don’t be too boisterous. If they start with closed arms, you may start that way too – briefly – before unfolding your arms. If they’re sitting, then sit as well.

Much of this could also be considered mirroring, and it’s important because meeting them in this way breaks down some of the physical barriers to rapport (i.e., body language and tone).

Be careful in situations where they’re highly irate and looking angry – you don’t want to mirror those attributes.

But when establishing rapport and trying to engender some trust, openness, and goodwill, adopt this principle.

Meet them where they’re at.

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Lessons from the Beast – 1/19/16 TOW

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My daughter loved the movie Beauty and the Beast. Just to set the story for everyone, it’s about a young woman – Belle – who loved to read and the Beast who loved her. Initially, the Beast imprisoned her, hoping he could get her to love him so the curse that turned him from Prince to Beast would be removed. Later he released her, and they fell in love.

Oftentimes, as customer service people, we try to find the prince inside the beast of a customer. We try to look for the good in the person ranting, raving, and being unreasonable. If all we focus on is that exterior ugliness, then we may not want to provide a solution or an answer – we may not even want to help.

But this tip isn’t about how we see the beast of a customer; this tip is about a positive we can learn for ourselves from the Beast himself – the man with the ugly exterior yet the heart (literally) of a prince.

I’m certain that most everyone reading this CSS Tip of the Week is a kind, caring person – one who wants to help others and better his or herself. And while having that pleasant, positive, and helpful inner core is great, the question is: Will our outside show what our inside is all about?

It’s not enough to be caring. We have to convey caring.

It’s not enough to work on a problem for a customer. We have to let them know what we’re doing and when it will be done.

It’s not enough to be pleasant. We need that to shine through in our face and our voice.

It’s not enough to be engaged. We need to let our eyes and questions share that interest.

We need to first know who we are and what we want to be FOR others. Then we have to be intentional about becoming that, and becoming that WITH the other person knowing it.

Show others your service side.

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