training

Don’t Dwell on the Customer Crazies - 1/22/19


Whether or not you’re a fan of Duke University basketball, you may have heard of the “Cameron Crazies.” This is a nickname for Duke fans that attend home games in Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. One of my friends was one of those Cameron Crazies. He was Read more

Retain through Responsiveness - 1/15/19


In a recent Bloomberg article about online retailers, there’s a story about a women’s cosmetics customer who used an online app to order some items. She waited weeks for the delivery after it was shipped to the wrong address, and she had great difficulty in getting the issue resolved. Read more

Bring Something Extra to the Table - 1/8/19


As somebody who has customer service as a part of their role and responsibilities, you are often talking to customers who could access the answers to their questions or the solutions to their problems via a website or some social media resource. But instead of going to those communication Read more

How to Have a Truly HAPPY New Year - 1/1/19


Don’t worry. After today, I will get away from my holiday-themed tips, but for now, let me ask you a question. What would be a good way to have a truly HAPPY New Year? Is it lowering expectations so that everything exceeds your expectations? Is Read more

2018 Holiday Poem - 12/25/18


Annually I write a note at this time of year, And the goal not once but every time is to bring you some cheer. I try to encourage, And I work to state the truth Because as we continue to grow more “wise,” We can’t lose sight of the joys of youth. So this year Read more

Be SomeBODY to Your Customer - 12/18/18


Jenny lives on a farm, and she's often running errands to get things for the animals or the family. She goes to one particular store to get her hay, and she always chit-chats with the person at the register. Marie is always friendly and cordial, and Jenny always buys Read more

A Representative Success! - 12/11/18


I was in a meeting recently with a client, and it was interesting to chat with one of their best customer service representatives. This is an employee who works with the same business clients every month, and when she described what she does, best practices started flowing. She knows her Read more

Of Carly Simon and Corey Feldman - 12/4/18


Anticipation. It's a fine song by Carly Simon. She talks about how it (anticipation) is making her late, and it is keeping her waiting. The song is also the theme for the cheesy Corey Feldman 1970s Heinz Ketchup commercial. But that definition of “Anticipation” talks about the Read more

Use Customer Comments to Continuously Improve - 11/27/18


It’s that time of year when all good Americans due their duty – to purchase holiday gifts online. Okay, maybe it’s not as much a duty as it is a joy or chore, depending on your point-of-view. Before I purchase anything online, I seek out reviews. This may Read more

No Matter How You Say It, Say Thanks! - 11/20/18


Gracias. Grazie. Gratias tibi. Obrigado. Tack. Merci. Danke. Thank You. No matter how you say it, say it. Say Thank You. You can say Thank You in many different languages (shout out to Google Translate for what's written above!). You can say it 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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Why are they Calling You? – 7/29/14 TOW

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


The customers were complaining about being transferred multiple times, about voice messages not being returned, about e-mails they sent that received no response.

Then the company responded with solutions.

The staff needed to be more responsive. The staff needed training. The company needed a new policy. A monitoring system for staff responsiveness needed to be put into place.

The scenario I just described happens thousands of times per day across the customer service landscape, and it happened recently to me as well with one of our clients.

However, there’s an inherent problem with this scenario. Too often, the focus is ONLY on how to respond better, more quickly, and more consistently.

The bigger question, the root cause question is this – Why is the customer calling in the first place?

Is it a complaint about a defective product? If so, then why is the company selling defective products?

Is the question about poor customer service? Then why is the service so poor?

Is the call requesting a status update? Then isn’t there another way for the customer to get a status without calling?

Is the contact made by the customer so they fully understand the next steps? If so, then why weren’t those next steps conveyed clearly, simply, and in a documented manner already?

I would never advise any company NOT to try to improve. But before you try to address issues of responsiveness, find out the reasons you’re having to respond in the first place. Then find ways to reduce the need for the customer to call you directly.

Know why they are calling you.

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