Customer Service Tip of the Week | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 6

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

The Customer Can Hear Your Attitude – 10/25/22

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Sherry was sitting in the lobby, waiting to be called back for her appointment.  Just off the lobby was an office that Sherry was sitting near.  The person in the office was on a phone call, but Sherry couldn’t see the employee.  She could tell it was a call because Sherry could hear only one voice.

The words of the employee were not clear because of the distance, and Sherry wasn’t the nosy type, so she didn’t listen too closely.  Yet, the call was interesting.  The employee was interesting.  Sherry’s perceptions were interesting.

All Sherry could discern was the tone of the employee’s voice.  But the tone was positive.  There were occasional laughs.  It wasn’t non-stop talking or non-stop silence.  Sherry could tell there was a good flow to the conversation.  The employee’s tone seemed to fluctuate, but it never got too loud.

Sherry began to draw conclusions from what she heard:  The employee seems pleasant, seems like a good listener.  They’re polite and have a good sense of humor.  The employee’s definitely interested in hearing what the other person has to say.  They’re not reading a script; instead, the employee is very conversational.

Who knows if Sherry’s conclusions are correct.  But it’s what Sherry perceived about the employee, felt about the employee.  And those conclusions, perceptions, and feelings were based solely on the employee’s tone-of-voice.

We often cite the statistic that studies have shown that – on phone calls…

86% of what one person perceives about the other’s personality is based on that person’s tone-of-voice.

Only 14% is based on the actual words.

Believe the stats.  When talking with others, keep in mind that the customer can hear your attitude through your voice.

Let your tone convey the perception of you that you hope to create.

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How to Handle the Customer’s Error – 10/18/22

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Are all of your customers perfect?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Of course, customers are not perfect.  Neither are we, but let’s focus this Tip on what they do wrong and what we can do about it in a professional, positive, and productive manner:

  • When the customer isn’t clear, you respond: Is it OK if I ask you a couple of quick questions just to make sure I understand the situation?
  • When the customer doesn’t complete the form, you respond: To make sure we get this moving for you, I just wanted to get some additional information.
  • When the customer calls the wrong number, you respond: Since I’m not the best one to address that for you, let me get you in touch with the person who can help you.
  • When the customer goes to the wrong location, you respond: I’ll be happy to show you the best way to get to where you need to be.
  • When the customer leaves out some facts in a situation, you respond: Just to make sure I’m clear, I’m going to walk through my understanding of what we just discussed. Where they left out the facts, you ask: Now, what happened at this point?
  • When the customer gave you the wrong information, you respond: Unfortunately, I’m not able to pull up that account, but let’s try a different method.

 
Notice that we are avoiding blame.  We are using a lot of phraseology that deals with you, as the employee, gaining clarification or understanding.  We are not calling anything an error as much as we are using terms that convey we are making this as complete as possible, or getting the best person to address the need.  We are identifying what the issue is without noting who caused the issue.  We are often talking about why we are asking the question or talking about a particular topic.

When addressing the customer’s error, be professional, positive, and productive.

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Critique Yourself before Others Do – 10/11/22

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When we’re criticized, we can get defensive, push back, deflect blame to others, and focus more on defending ourselves than really listening to what the other person is saying.  And some of us who get defensive, once we allow our emotions to settle, take time to reflect on what the other person said.  We sometimes are willing to see those kernels of truth.  We are willing to learn from them and possibly make a change moving forward.

While it’s not great to be defensive, it’s often a natural reaction.  It’s also a sign of maturity and wisdom to be able to overcome that initial defensiveness and try to get some lessons learned from what the other person said.

But what if we critiqued our own mistakes before the customer or co-worker complained?  Not everything we do imperfectly or incorrectly or not on a timely basis or not in the best way possible is something that’s going to draw a complaint.

If you’re like me, you probably make little mistakes every single day.

We make many decisions every day, so it’s natural that some of those decisions are going to be wrong.  The resulting action or inaction could be wrong.

Self-critiques that can lead to Self-improvement

But when we know in our gut or it’s clear based on some reaction/data/feedback that we didn’t do our best, we have to learn from our own mistakes:

  • I really should have called that person back when I first thought about it.
  • I knew I should have had somebody check my work before I moved it to the next step.
  • I should have paused and thought through what might happen on that call before I responded to the customer.
  • I really should have listened one more minute or asked one more question before sharing my thoughts.
  • That meeting took a lot longer than it could have, and if I had just gone in a little bit more prepared, we probably would have ended on time.
  • That would have gone much better if I stopped sending e-mails and just picked up the phone and called the person.
  • That call would have been a lot cleaner if I would have looked away from the computer screen and focused totally on the caller.

If we make these comments to ourselves and put lessons learned into place, then maybe we would have fewer reasons for the co-worker or the customer to critique us.  And if they did critique us, we probably would have already had that conversation with ourselves about a very similar issue, and we might understand their critique more because we heard it from ourselves first.

Therefore, we might not respond so defensively, we might not get so emotional, and we might actually understand where they’re coming from a lot sooner.

If you critique yourself before others do, the critiques of others won’t affect you as much.

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