training

I Think I Think is Wrong - 10/20/20


I think that’s not going to be feasible.  I think we can do that.  I think you’re on the right track.  Methinks thou dost protest too much. Please forgive the Shakespearean reference, but it seems to fit well here.  When we are talking to co-workers and customers, and we’re giving Read more

Be Slowest, and Be the Best – Chick-fil-A - 10/13/20


About one week ago, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution had an article that analyzed the results of a SeeLevel HX research engagement on the customer experience at fast food restaurants.  The results were seemingly contradictory.  The fast food chain with by far the overall best drive-thru experience was Chick-fil-A, and yet Read more

Connect During Customer Service Week - 10/6/20


It’s Customer Service Week…woohoo!  This week should be all about the customers we serve and the staff who serve them.  This should be about conveying we value other people, and – hopefully – having other people convey that they value us.  It’s a week about people – about us. This Read more

Temper the Tone of THE VOICE - 9/29/20


The television show The Voice is a singing competition.  The opening episodes of every season begin with individuals singing while judges have their backs to the singer.  The judges can’t see the singer, so they are evaluating the performer purely based on their voice. Oftentimes, when the judge turns around, Read more

Keep On Going - 9/22/20


Thomas Edison once said “Many of life’s failures are experiences by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” You are close to success – Keep On Going. Winston Churchill once said "If you’re going through hell, keep going."  This quote has been taken Read more

Lessons Learned for COVID Era Sporting Events


Since the sports world has begun inviting fans back to their events on a limited basis, CSS has been fortunate to work on multiple events with our sports clients.  Much of our work is fan research-oriented, where before or after events, we are engaging fans to identify expectations, potential Read more

Create a Common Definition of Customer Service - 9/15/20


Peter, Paul, and Marie are co-workers. They are all customer service representatives.  When Peter thinks of good customer service, he defines it as being friendly to the customer. “And I am friendly,” Peter says.  “That’s why I don’t know why they send me to customer service training.” Paul thinks customer Read more

COVID-19 Demand Management Strategies for Customer Service Channels


We all want demand for our products or services.  This helps us to generate revenue and to provide something of value to our customers and communities.  But customer demand does not strictly relate to products and services.  Demand also relates to communications, information, issue resolution, education, and other aspects Read more

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance? - 9/8/20


This is a quote by Edgar Bergen.  He’s one of the most famous ventriloquists of all time, but I guess he wasn’t necessarily one of the hardest workers of all time.  By sharing this quote, I am not supporting the idea that we shouldn’t work hard…or am I? We only Read more

Reach Out More for COVID-19 Customer Retention


Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic became a reality for individuals, their communities, and their countries, it became clear that people were going to be hurting…that lives were going to be changing…that the realities of the past were going to be very different from the current and near-term future realities. When Read more

To Dream the Impossible Dream – 12/1/15 TOW

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


Anybody a Frank Sinatra fan? The song “To Dream the Impossible Dream” was a hit for him, and the lyrics as well as the build-to-a-crescendo music can send chills down your spine. It can inspire. It can make you believe you can do what may not seem possible…to run where the brave dare not go…to right the unrightable wrong…to reach the unreachable star…or to teach someone how to be empathetic.

Okay, empathy was not in the lyrics, but when I’ve often stated that empathy is the most important characteristic for someone to have to be great at customer service, it begs the question “What do we do about employees who are not necessarily empathetic?”

After all – can you really teach empathy? Yes and no.

No, you can’t teach someone to have that natural tendency toward trying to understand others, to be able to readily see life through the eyes of those different from themselves.

But yes, you can teach the benefits of and need for empathy. You can teach the intellectual components of empathy. You can show what empathetic tone of voice and body language look like to others.

From the “intellectual components” perspective, empathy is conveyed – in part – by people who appropriately probe to learn about others. We can teach staff to say “Help me understand what happened” or “I want to learn about the background” or “Tell me about your situation.” Asking the questions helps to create the understanding by having that other person – the customer or co-worker – share their thoughts, perspective, opinions, feelings, background, and history.

You can convey empathy by stating your understanding of what the customer just stated. You can stop other activities, make the eye contact, nod periodically as the customer talks, and document what they said to show you’re listening, to remember what they said, and to convey you care.

Dream the impossible dream. Teach the tools that help staff to become more empathetic.

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Orillia’s Orientation Toward Customer Service

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 7-3-15 - 3rd postI know, I know – Government customer service is an oxymoron – I’ve heard the joke often, but I’ve worked with too many local government organizations to believe it’s true. The reasons it’s difficult to deliver great customer service typically fall into 3 buckets:

  • The easiest way to change a culture is to change the people, and it’s often very difficult to change staff in local government
  • A key to creating a particular desired culture is to have rewards and recognition (i.e., incentives) for staff who exhibit the needed behaviors and attitudes; many governments have policies and budgets that greatly limit such rewards
  • Many local government agencies are enforcing code, ordinances, laws, and regulations. It’s hard for the customer to feel great in situations when you’re telling them “no.”

I’m sharing these obstacles to great local government customer service because they’re a reality…but they’re also an excuse.

The Orillia City Government has been working on its continuous improvement strategy, focusing largely on customer service. According to the article City expanding customer-service focus, the City approved a customer service strategy in May that included the following components:

  • Continuous monitoring of customer satisfaction and feedback;
  • Exploring ways to expand access to services online;
  • Exploring opportunities to offer expanded payment options;
  • Establishing a dedicated customer-service team, comprised of staff from each city department, to monitor and receive feedback on the city’s customer-service practices;
  • Reviewing options to provide general reception on the first floor of the Orillia City Centre;
  • The implementation of corporate-wide customer-service standards to ensure consistent levels of service in all departments and locations;
  • Expansion of the city’s website to offer more information regarding the appropriate staff contact for all areas of the corporation; and
  • Regular customer-service training for staff.

Review your organization’s customer service strategy. Does it include research, broader service delivery vehicles, dedicated customer service resources, facility navigation, standards development, and training?

Review your strategy if you want to move it forward in a more comprehensive way. Learn from Orillia’s strategic orientation toward customer service.

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Districts Can Take Customer Service to HEART

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

Blog 2-4-15“Customer Service” can be an uncomfortable phrase to use in the education world. We’ve seen this lack of comfort at the K12, community college, and university levels. There is often a discomfort with viewing students as customers.

But the idea of serving others is clearly important to those in education – it’s amazing how much care that education industry professionals can show for that student – whether they’re the kindergartener or the near-term college graduate. So where there’s care, there’s a heart part to what people do in education.

To learn to best deliver what we’ll call “Service Excellence” to students, parents, and others inside and outside of the school district, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District is partnering with the Cleveland Clinic on training that taps into their HEART customer service training program. According to the article Cleveland school district getting heart-to-heart talks from Cleveland Clinic, the District is “no longer a monopoly in the market where people go to school because we said so.

Competition has spurred this focus on Service Excellence, and the training is just a piece of what the District’s doing. They’re also “labeling” (in a good way) staff’s roles beyond their functional responsibilities to also address their role in the service experience. A local community college is better measuring satisfaction, and they’re sharing results with the community to raise transparency about performance.

When you think about competition, growth, and success in the eyes of a community – don’t be daunted by the challenges, and don’t try to manufacture growth or focus on the competition. To get there, you have to start here – inside the organization.

Equip staff with the tools, motivation, training, and expectations to deliver Service Excellence. Take Customer Service to HEART.

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