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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

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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