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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

The Error of “Everyone” - 9/24/19


A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted Read more

Between Texting and Thoreau - 9/17/19


The more people that enter the business world having grown up texting, the more the quality of business communications drops. A typical text between friends is rarely what anybody in business would call a professionally-written document. There’s nothing wrong with that, because texting is typically informal dialogue between friends. Read more

I want to be an Astronaut - 9/10/19


When I was young, if a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, the answers were often a fireman, a Pro Football player, a teacher, somebody who got to drive a truck, or an astronaut. Maybe the question is still asked today, and, if Read more

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

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

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

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

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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To Banter or Not to Banter – 5/12/15 TOW

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


I love some good banter or chit-chat – it’s great for informal conversations with friends, family and co-workers. But when is it great for customer conversations?

First, let me define “Banter” in a customer context. Think of it as conversation about a topic that most likely has little to do with the customer’s need, issue, or question. You’re initiating a discussion about nothing pertinent to the conversation (e.g., Where are you calling from? Where did you get that beautiful bracelet? The weather has been crazy this year here, hasn’t it?).

So why would you ever have some light-hearted banter with the customer? There are many times:

  • When there’s downtime during the call – You want to keep the conversation going.
  • When the customer is NOT irate or angry – It’s too risky when they have that negative emotion to go off-topic – that may upset them unless you’re REALLY talented at defusing those emotions.
  • When you’re trying to learn more about them – You’re trying to show interest in them as an individual customer.
  • When it’s the beginning of the relationship – You want to know them better to serve them better.
  • When they clearly have time – Banter is more readily accepted by those more likely to be patient (not in a rush).
  • When they have NOT been waiting long – It takes time to banter – see their situation before bringing up other topics.
  • When you’re doing a task (on the computer, etc.) where they are waiting for your process to end – They won’t feel it’s a waste of time if they can tell that you’re still being productive.
  • When you’re trying to reduce the perception of wait time (such as a long stay in a waiting room) – It shows that you noticed them and are aware of them despite the fact that no service is being performed at that moment.

 
Banter? Chit-chat? Sure. Just be smart about when you do it.

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