voice mail

Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster - 12/3/19


Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department: A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.” A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class Read more

Become a Best Practice - 11/26/19


When evaluating the service that our clients provide to their customers, we look at all sorts of things – from employee attitudes to knowledge, from service skills to procedures, systems, and technology.  We look at navigation to and within the facilities, and we look at layout and signage and Read more

Serve with Integrity - 11/19/19


I’ve been reading a book recently about a Charlotte-based service company, and the author of the book conveys the CEO’s perspective on management, culture, and serving customers. At the back of the book, the author noted the organization’s Core Values. They are honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect. I literally Read more

Bring Out the Best - 11/12/19


As a management consultant, oftentimes my job is to identify the key issues, determine the root causes, and provide solutions. We do a lot of strategy work, we conduct many research projects, and we train and train and train our clients. However, improvement usually involves pointing out what needs Read more

Know What You Don’t Know - 11/5/19


Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – yak, yak, yak.  In the social media world, there’s an awful lot of talk that goes on and a lot of opinions shared.  But sometimes those opinions are not based on any level of deep knowledge. Sometimes they are based on assumptions. In the world of Read more

Service, Sports, and Self-Control - 10/29/19


When I was growing up, I played a lot of golf. I practiced a lot, and I could score pretty well. However, when something went bad, when I hit a tee shot into the woods or dumped an iron shot into a lake, I would become unglued. Then every Read more

What it Means to Respect Someone’s Time - 10/22/19


Whether it is with a client when I realize that the meeting might go long, or possibly it’s in a workshop where I’m trying to end one conversation so we can move on to the next topic, there is a phrase I’ve used many times, and I mean it Read more

Be the Director of First Impressions - 10/15/19


Whether it’s in a hotel or in a coffee shop or a bank branch, first impressions mean a lot. First impressions mean “this is who we are” and “this is what you should expect.” First impressions mean “this is our definition of excellence” and “this is how much we Read more

People will Pay for Customer Service - 10/8/19


Sometimes all you need to read is the first paragraph in an article. Here’s the title from Business Insider: Amazon charges sellers as much as $5,000 a month for customer service if they want a guarantee that they'll be able to talk to a real person. The first paragraph reads: Amazon Read more

New Ways to Celebrate National Customer Service Week - 10/1/19


The week of October 7 is National Customer Service Week. No, this wasn’t another holiday invented by Hallmark, so you have to go to work. Hopefully that’s the good news! This week is typically thought of as a time to rejuvenate relationships with customers, to refocus your efforts on treating Read more

Define Quick, Then Keep Things Moving – 5/26/15 TOW

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


According to Dictionary.com, “responsiveness” in machinery terms is defined as “the ability of a machine or system to adjust quickly to suddenly altered external conditions, as of speed, load, or temperature, and to resume stable operation without undue delay.”

People are not machines, but it’s interesting how closely this “system” definition of responsiveness relates to our people definition.

When we are considered responsive, it is usually characterizing our quick reaction to something brought to us – a customer’s need, a co-worker’s issue, an e-mail, or a phone call.

The other person needs the response or the answer so they can move on. They can go to their next action, continue with the project, know what to do next, or have resolution so they no longer have to deal with an issue. The key in responsiveness is that this response of ours has to be “quick.” But “quick” is defined differently by different people. The definition could be “without undue delay,” but what is “undue delay?”

The busier I get and the more I rely on others as partners in accomplishing goals, the more I value responsiveness. Responsiveness is that which keeps us moving. To many, it’s that which shows we care. It’s that which ensures that the other person’s time isn’t wasted and their anxiety isn’t heighted by delay.

To me, quick is an acknowledgement of the e-mail or voice mail within 6 business hours. When it’s an urgent request, quick is defined more aggressively.

Talk to those you serve and work with in business. Understand what’s important to them and how they define “undue delay.” Learn their timing expectations so you can better be responsive to the needs of others.

Define Quick, Then Keep Things Moving.

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Are You More Than 64% Responsive? – 9/30/14 TOW

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I’m sure if we asked every healthcare CEO, every university president, and every sports team COO whether his/her staff are responsive to their current or prospective customers, they’d say “Yes!” And they’d be horrified to hear the truth.

We’ve conducted thousands of mystery shops in public and private sector businesses – from your local school system to pro sports teams, from universities to banks, from municipalities to healthcare providers. Oftentimes we leave voice mails and e-mails requesting a response to a question or need. Almost invariably, the response rates to those messages are abysmal.

The best return call percentage to voice mails has been 55%. The best e-mail response rate we’ve seen is 64%. I’m not describing high quality responses, either; I’m just sharing the percentage who responded at all.

Maybe I give the CXOs too much credit, suggesting they’d be “horrified.” Why? Because it’s not like moving mountains to have personnel respond to over 70% or 80% or 90% of messages received. Three actions of the CXOs are required to increase responsiveness:

  1. They have to continually communicate how important it is to be responsive to customers.
  2. The CXOs must be as responsive to their own staff as they expect staff to be with customers.
  3. The CXOs must ensure that their management and staff have the time, processes, and systems that facilitate responsiveness.

Now one could surmise that the 3rd point is the hardest action to take, and that may be true. But I would argue that the 2nd point is hardest for most CXOs, because even before these actions occur, the CXO has to do one simple thing – care.

They have to care about staff, care about the customer, care about creating an environment where responsiveness can occur, and care about being the model to their staff.

So what’s the best way to ensure that staff “get it” about the need for responsiveness?

To answer this, I’m going to steal a line a client of mine stated last week (I’m paraphrasing). Leaders should ask their staff “Who’s the most responsive person in the organization?”

What if the staff named that leader, that CXO? Now, that would be POWERFUL!

Share this Tip with your leaders. Encourage them to be the most responsive person in your organization.

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I Assume She is Not Like Me – 3/4/14 TOW

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She left me a voice mail, and I prefer to respond via e-mail. She talks really fast, and I prefer a more casual speed. What she wants most is to be heard, and what I want most is to have my problem fixed. She wants to be walked through a process by an employee, and I want the self-service option.

She is the customer. I am the employee. We could not be more different.

But what if I prefer voice mail, I talk fast, I want to be heard, and I want that 1-on-1 employee support? Then we’re the same, correct?

The point is not in the determination of whether we’re the same or different. The point is that we can’t make assumptions that we and the customers are the same.

How I prefer to be communicated with, how I prefer a situation be handled, how I prefer to get a need met may be the same as 70% of my customers, but what about the other 30%? If I believe that they are like me, I could deliver some pretty lousy service to those 30%.

This is when we talk about the importance on not assuming the customer is just like us. This is when trying to convey empathy is so important. Because customers want their need or issue addressed, but many also want it addressed in a certain manner, and if we don’t take the initiative to identify not only what they want but how they want it received or handled, we could have a dissatisfied customer.

Don’t just describe what you’ll do for the customer, but confirm that will work. Don’t just assume how you’ll communicate with them, but ask their preference. Don’t just overlook the particulars of their situation, ask them for the details.

To deliver great customer service, we have to avoid the assumption they are like us and – instead – confirm the reality. Assume they’re different; that focus will force you to ask them about themselves, their needs, their issues, and their preferences. It will put you in a learning mindset, and it will make you better at serving them in the best manner possible.

Assume the customer is different from you.