training

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, 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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