Customer Service Tip of the Week | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 10

When You Can’t Say “Yes to the Address” - 2/7/23


I was interviewing a frontline staff person for one of our local government clients recently as part of our CSS Training Development Process.  They described their customers and the difficult situations that they face, their tougher conversations with customers. This individual supports local events, so there’s a lot of planning involved.  Read more

How to Fix Other People’s Problems - 1/31/23


I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone - let’s call her Katie. There had been poor communication between different Read more

What to do When You’re in the Middle - 1/24/23


Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being Read more

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? - 1/17/23


Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most Read more

Decide Who’s Driving the Bus - 1/10/23


I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus? I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… – 8/2/22

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Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast.

In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step – what points to cover and what points to avoid.

But today, let’s be a little less prescriptive and just talk about some Guiding Principles when you’re engaging the other person:

Avoid the Absolutes – Conveying empathy is important in these situations.  People seem to be less anxious when they feel like somebody is trying to understand them.  However, it’s best to avoid statements that convey that you are certain about what they’re feeling, that you are certain about their situation:  I know exactly how you feel. You are stressed. I know you’re nervous.

By using these statements, we’re making assumptions that they’re stressed about something.  Sure, they appear that way, but we don’t want to state the assumption as a fact, since we could either be wrong or they may take offense if we tell them how they feel.  Instead, use phraseology like: It seems…or I would understand if…or Situations like this can be…

Temper Your Tone – One way to bring nervousness down is to bring the volume down.  Try to speak more softly. Yes, still use a bit of inflection to show interest but not so much inflection that it brings higher energy into the conversation.  We’re trying to pull some of the energy and emotion out of the conversation.

Ease the Expressiveness – If you’re somebody who talks with their hands (like me!) or have lots of facial expressions, if you’re somebody who moves around a lot when they talk – these activities can keep the energy and the emotion in the conversation.

Slow your movements.  Have more of a neutral, yet somewhat positive facial expression.  Relax your shoulders and your arms, and provide a total focus on the other individual.

When the other person is stressed, we don’t want to do anything to create an even more stressful environment for them – or for us.

Avoid the Absolutes, Temper Your Tone, and Ease the Expressiveness.

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Find the Hidden Compliment – 7/26/22

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The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear.

In these types of complaints, the ones that are not as much personal as they are about process or product or technology or payments, there are often hidden compliments within the complaint.

There are two clear ways we can view these complaints based on a point in time.  In-the-moment, we have to focus on the issue and the resolution.  For the future, we can find that hidden gem of information, and oftentimes that gem is a compliment.

Why look for compliments?  First, compliments are positive, and it’s usually better for our mindset and mental health to make sure we have at least some semblance of a balance in customer service – where those positives don’t allow themselves to be overrun by all negatives.

Second, compliments tell us what customers like.  Frequently, the best way to improve is to Strengthen Our Strengths as opposed to purely fixing our organizational faults.

The room is too cold? The wait is too long? The parking spaces need to be bigger?  The view through the positive lens suggests that customers want to conduct their business in this building. They appreciate the opportunity to engage us face-to-face.  They’re willing to come to us, to reach out to us.  That method of engagement is not a barrier to our relationship with them.

The app doesn’t have a mapping function? They can’t pay with their phone? The website’s unclear?  Let’s put these complaints in a positive light.  They like that we provide an app!  They like the ability to do customer service in a self-service manner.  They want to pay for our services.  They are willing to move toward the latest technology.

When we’re dealing with that complaint, we need to be in-the-moment and focus on the issue.

But when it’s not in that moment of truth, look for opportunities to continuously improve by finding the hidden compliment in the complaint.

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When You Know More Than They Do – 7/19/22

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It was 95 degrees outside.  That’s not too bad when you’re inside and enjoying the air conditioning; but when Rachel’s A/C went out, in came Rachel’s worry.  Luckily, she knew the company to call, and a technician from Acme HVAC (fake name, real company) came out the next morning.

Rachel is not a heating, ventilation, nor air conditioning expert, but she likes to understand the problem before deciding how to get things fixed.

The visit went well, and later that day, Rachel responded to a follow-up e-mail from the home office of Acme HVAC with a positive reply.  She was very happy with the technician.  The tech was an expert in his work and excellent in his communications with Rachel, and there were 3 lessons learned for all of us when we’re in a situation like this – where you know lots more than the customer:

  • Pack Your Patience – Providing short answers to broad customer questions – so you can shorten the conversation – can lead to a customer’s lack of clarity or understanding. The customer doesn’t have your level of knowledge, so if they’re inquisitive, it’s because they want to talk, they want to learn, they want to make an informed decision.  Be patient from the start.
  • Explain in Bite-sized Chunks – Explaining something new to a customer verbally can be difficult for them to clearly comprehend, especially if you’re discussing a process. Most people cannot absorb and understand a series of steps or interrelated topics if you give them everything at once.  Give them Step 1, verify they understand, then go to Step 2.
  • Allow/Encourage Questions – Learning is made easier if the teacher is encouraging conversation. Ask if they have any questions.  Note how you’re happy to answer any questions.  Offer the types of questions that people in similar situations often ask.  Convey a willingness to help them learn.

 
When you know more than the customer, Pack Your Patience, Explain in Bite-sized Chunks, and Allow/encourage questions.

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