voice mail

Don’t Assume because... - 8/13/19


You've probably heard this statement growing up. Your parents said, “Don’t assume, because it makes…you look bad.” Or something like that… Recently my laptop screen died, and since it was an older laptop, I decided to go ahead and buy a new one instead of paying to have the screen Read more

Patience Leads to Positivity - 8/6/19


Thank you for your patience. That’s a statement I enjoy saying…when I am the customer. When I’m trying to learn something and I’m about to go into a process, I want to have a feel for what the whole process involves. Over the years, I’ve gotten tired of feeling like Read more

Back to Reality...for Customer Expectations - 7/30/19


Have you ever walked into a patient registration area of a hospital and seen a sign that said “if you’ve been waiting longer than 15 minutes, please see the receptionist?” Have you ever called a customer service number and been told by a recording that “the average hold time is Read more

For Excellence to Happen, Get Engaged - 7/23/19


The customer was throwing an absolute fit in the lobby. Sitting among several other customers waiting for her number to be called, she was raising her voice and letting out the occasional expletive about the lengthy wait time. An employee sitting behind the counter thought to herself: I’m going Read more

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

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.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page


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

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


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.

Signup for FREE Tips!    Contact Us    More Resources for You    Visit Our Home Page


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

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


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.