Customer Service Tip of the Week | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 9

Use AI to Improve Your Performance - 7/23/24

Many companies are integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into some aspect of their business.  This could greatly change how they operate, how they communicate with customers. This AI wave reminds me of a story from 20+ years ago when a stock brokerage firm launched a new website that greatly enhanced the Read more

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24

Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24

There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24

I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24

When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24

In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24

Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24

Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24

The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24

The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently – 2/6/24

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When I’m watching television, listening to the radio, or listening to a podcast, it’s always interesting when the topic moves to the question:  How can you be a success?  The speakers often discuss the process of becoming a success with the assumption that people believe success is defined by fame, fortune, awards, power, position.

I believe success can be defined in a lot of ways having nothing to do with any of those accomplishments.  Sometimes those outcomes shouldn’t be the definitions of success.  So, especially as it relates to customer service, let’s define Success differently.

Noted below are three quotes.  Let’s look at how they apply to our work in trying to become successful in customer service.

Effort measures success better than outcome.

When we’re engaged with the customer or dealing with a difficult situation at the office, we can control ourselves, our response, or approach to the conversation.  We cannot always control the environment; we can rarely control the other people involved.  But the environment and the others involved affect the outcome of the situation.  So, don’t get down on yourself if the outcome wasn’t what you were hoping for or the overall tone of the conversation did not strike the right chord.  Define success as having done your best.

The cost of success is exceeded only by the cost of failure.

There’s rarely a perfect solution to a complex situation.  But in the vast majority of the cases, doing something gives you a better chance of success than doing nothing.  Deciding to respond to the e-mail or the voicemail when you don’t have an answer, instead of not responding at all.  Taking action on behalf of the customer instead of hoping that – by ignoring them – they will go away.  In customer service, the cost of doing nothing is a higher likelihood of failure, of losing the customer, of engendering that negative word-of-mouth, of creating bigger issues for your co-workers down the road.

Don’t be irreplaceable.  If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

Too many people feel that knowledge is power.  They believe in hoarding information or their experience or their expertise so that only they can use it.  This is not only a sign of somebody who’s not a team player, but it can actually be a deterrence to career development.  If we don’t share with others and try to build up and support our teammates, why would leadership want to move us up knowing that they would have a void they cannot fill?

Don’t define success purely based on the outcome.  Define customer service success by your efforts, your willingness to take action on behalf of the customer, and your willingness to impart your knowledge and wisdom to others.

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Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up – 1/30/24

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Nothing bad at all might happen.  Every day in the office could seem like every other day.  Sights and sounds and smells might continue to be the same.  But we have a lot of construction going on around our offices, and the building manager knows the type of work we do and the number of client calls and meetings we have throughout the week.

The construction doesn’t affect every part of the building all the time, but the building manager wanted to update me on the progress.  She told me when my area might be most affected by loud – and I mean LOUD – noise, so I could plan to go offsite if needed, and she asked me to proactively check-in with her if the noise was disruptive or something unusual happened.

She gave me a heads up.

This wasn’t even a warning of what would definitely happen.  It was an explanation of what might happen, when it might happen, and why it could happen.  She explained things in detail, yet conversationally.  She asked me to reach out and let her know if anything unexpected happens or if I had any questions.

This is basically a situation where nothing negative may end up happening to the customer, but the company knows something could happen.  Therefore, instead of hoping for the best and not engaging the customer unless the customer came to her with a complaint, she decided to be proactive. She decided to set some expectations. She decided to create dialogue.  She had enough knowledge of her customer’s type of business to understand how I might be impacted.

And I appreciated it.

Service recovery is typically what you do to recover after an issue happens, but the building manager engaged before something happened.

This is about being proactive to avoid the complaint, or to mitigate the negative effect on the customer, or to enable the customer to prepare themselves so that they are not inconvenienced, frustrated, or upset.

The next time you’re aware of something with your organization’s products, services, communications, or environment that may negatively affect the customer, let your customer know what to expect.  Let them know when things may happen.  Let them know how to communicate and with whom to communicate if any difficult situations arise.

Care enough to give the customer a heads up.

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Be Better than AI Customer Service – 1/23/24

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There was a recent CBS Sunday Morning Show story called: How artificial intelligence is revamping customer call centers.

The journalist described how artificial intelligence is being used in customer service, and he noted the millions of pieces of information that can be processed in a matter of seconds.

There are clear productivity and potential cost benefits to organizations of having a given encounter managed by computer rather than a person.

But there is an inherent set of problems that come along with AI, especially from the customer’s perspective.

What AI Customer Service Did Poorly

A relative was having cable issues recently, and trying to get customer service via the company app. Troubleshooting didn’t work; chatbot could not specifically answer the question.  The system kept moving to broad categories because it didn’t understand the specifics of the situation.  My relative’s issue didn’t fit into a box, so the technology didn’t know how to handle it.  The customer got frustrated and ended up having to call.

In the CBS story, customer service representatives noted that many customers are upset and just want to vent – that was the best way for the customer to settle down.  Unfortunately, virtual assistants and chatbots have a hard time giving empathy because, after all, they’re computers. They don’t have feelings and cannot truly sympathize with the customer.  Customers want sincere empathy, and they understand they’re not getting it when they’re talking to a computer.

What You Do Better than the Virtual Assistant

I’m not sharing this to suggest that the chatbots and the virtual assistants are going away.  They can provide value, and not just to the company, but also to the customer.  And some customers prefer to use this process for customer service.

This Tip is being shared so that those who serve customers can understand what differentiates us from those virtual service offerings.

We differentiate ourselves from virtual customer service with our interest and willingness to find out the specific details of the customer situation.  It is our willingness to find out about potential alternatives, and converse with the customer about the pros and the cons, what would work best for them.  It is the ability and desire to be empathetic and understanding, to truly convey how much we value the customer.  We differentiate ourselves from those chatbots by the ability to more often deliver first contact resolution, to avoid the multiple handoffs.

We don’t need to fear these alternative technologies.  We need to understand what we provide beyond what they provide.  We need to utilize them as tools, as useful inputs for what we offer to our customers.

Understand what you can and do provide beyond these technology supports, and make sure you’re engaging with customers to highlight your proactive nature, your inquisitiveness about the specifics of the situation, your empathy, and your ability to truly help the customer the first time.

Be Better than AI Customer Service.

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