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Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

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

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

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

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 Chick-fil-A was by far the slowest drive-thru.  While the average drive-thru takes 5 minutes 57 seconds according to the study (from line entry to receipt of food), Chick-fil-A averaged 8 minutes and 9 seconds during the research.

So how can you be so slow and yet be considered the best?  Well for Chick-fil-A, one thing to keep in mind is that, on average, they had three times the number of customers in line as the other restaurants.  At the other restaurants, you’re behind 2-4 other cars when you arrive, and about every 1-2 minutes you move, but otherwise you’re sitting.  Also, when you pull in you’re usually near the ordering microphone, and you can see where people are receiving their food just ahead of you. It’s so close, yet it’s so far!!

At Chick-fil-A when you pull in, you’re often at the end of a “horseshoe” line on one side of the restaurant, and the customers receiving their food are on the other side.  There could be 10-15 or more cars ahead of you.  So even though you’re waiting 8 minutes, about every 30 to 45 seconds you’re moving forward – you feel like you’re making progress.  And when you can finally see the front of the line, you’re almost there!  All the while that you’re in line, you are being engaged by employees out in the parking lot who are taking your order, taking your payment, walking with you, and making sure that even the wait is a positive experience.

Even though you’re in line 2-2.5 minutes longer at Chick-fil-A, you’re moving more.  You’re engaged more.  And you’re having a better overall experience.

Yes, Chick-fil-A is considered the best for a lot of reasons from a customer service perspective, but one of the reasons is that even the waiting experience itself is actually far better than competitors.

Learn a little lesson from Chick-fil-A.  Find ways to be the best, even if you’re not the fastest.

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

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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 sincerely: I want to be respectful of your time.

Time is a valuable commodity. In this world that we live in, people are often so busy, they feel like they don’t have time, and maybe they truly don’t in that moment. One thing is for sure, whether people truly have time or not, they don’t want to feel like their time is being wasted. So, as someone who works in customer service, how do you respect someone’s time?

Look at it through the lens of the acronym BDA. BDA stands for Before, During, and After.

When you first engage a customer, thank them for the time they spent Before they got to you. Particularly if this is a follow-up question or request of theirs, or if they drove to your location, say Thanks for coming in! Show appreciation for what they went through prior to coming to you. Oftentimes you’re having a 2-minute conversation face-to-face with somebody who’s already accessed your website, called your co-worker, driven through rain and snow and gloom of night, and waited in line just to see you.

During refers to the conversation itself. Try to be as efficient as possible in meeting that customer’s needs; early on confirm how much time the customer has so that you know if they have 2 minutes or 20 minutes to sit with you. By understanding what’s going on in their mind from a time perspective – by knowing whether they are rushed or relaxed – you can best value their time in that interaction.

After refers to thinking about what’s going to happen next. If they have a next step that they need to take, or if there’s going to be some delay in your follow-up because of some internal process or communication or decision that needs to be made, let them know that you appreciate the forms they will be filling out. Let them know you appreciate their patience as they wait for an answer or resolution to their question.

To show that you value someone’s time, to be respectful of someone’s time, engage the customer with your understanding of what time they put into this interaction Before, During, and After.

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Back to Reality…for Customer Expectations – 7/30/19

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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 ‘X’ minutes?”

Have you ever begun the process of getting a permit to build a deck on a home and been given a form that says what each step in the process involves, when you need to do each step (including inspections), and whom you need to contact?

You may reply “no” to all of these or “yes” to some, but these are examples of companies who understand the importance of trying to set or manage customer expectations. These companies understand that that first person may complain after waiting 5 minutes if they don’t realize that a 15-minute wait is realistic. These companies realize that that second customer may get irate or take their business elsewhere if they had to wait on the phone 2 minutes but might be more patient if their expectation is a 3-minute wait. These companies understand that a customer educated on a process is more comfortable and less likely to have issues with it, less likely to do things incorrectly.

Companies who attempt to proactively set or manage expectations understand the importance of the customer having some concept in their mind of what the reality is going to be; that makes it more likely that the customer will be satisfied with the experience, and the employee won’t have to deal with an irate customer.

Where can your company proactively set an expectation with customers about how long a process will take, how long a wait might be, what actions are about to take place, or what they need to do?

Determine where the opportunities to set expectations exist, and then use signage, messaging, documentation, and direct one-on-one conversations to do whatever you can to set (or reset) your customers’ expectations.

Get customer expectations back to reality.

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