Business Advice | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 2

Find a Connection Point – Part 2: Situational Connection - 10/4/22


Last week we highlighted key topics to consider when you want to find Personal Connection Points with the customer.  Today, we’ll cover some key questions to ask to uncover information about today’s situation that you can use to establish a rapport with the customer.  This is Part 2 - Read more

Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection - 9/27/22


Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like Read more

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service - 8/30/22


Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others. The Good… Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

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


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 Read more

Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19

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What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect.

No Communication = No Connection

If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we not only are not top-of-mind, but we’re not even “bottom-of-mind.” We are not in the mind. They don’t think of us, they don’t consider us because the relationship has gone stale.

Now caring is in the eye of the beholder. How one person defines whether they are cared for by the other may differ from individual to individual. But if we put things in the context of the customer relationship, there are some more consistent realities. Communicating with the customer just to sell isn’t relationship-building. A lack of communication isn’t relationship-building.

What Caring for the Customer Requires

Caring requires that people feel like they’re viewed as an individual – that we value them. It requires that we usually listen more than talk. It means that we try to understand their issues, needs, and goals, and – if they want more than the listening ear – we address those issues, needs, and goals.

So much of what I just described suggests that we can – and MUST – improve customer relations through research, and CSS is conducting a great deal of research in this COVID-19 environment because our clients understand this truth.

Customer research done correctly involves a company asking a customer a question. It involves the company seeking information from the customer, ultimately for the customer. Sometimes, well-designed research instruments convey caring for the customer and valuing of the customer just by how the tools are worded and what questions are asked.

Design with the Customer in Mind

What do you need to know about the customer to help them? What do you need to learn about them to best serve them? How do you identify their priorities, their issues, their concerns, their perceptions, their preferences? And how do you construct these questions in such a way that you convey that you care? We’re talking about research, and we’re not necessarily saying it’s purely web-based surveys. This can include one-on-one interviews, phone follow-up from account representatives, or check-in calls from staff. This could include informal e-mail requests, or it could include facilitated ZOOM focus groups.

Whatever it is, do enough of it to know enough about as many of your customers as possible to help them. If you professionally design with the conveying that you care in mind, you will improve customer relations.


Address the 4 P’s for a Customer-friendly COVID-19 Walk-in Experience

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This is not about what is medically most effective – please see the CDC for those guidelines.  This is about how to help your customers have a great experience as an onsite visitor at your facility or storefront.  For a comprehensive approach to a customer-friendly COVID-19 experience, address the four P’s:  Places, Processes, Products, and People:

Places – Starting outside the building, have signage that tells the customer what to do and where to go, using a combination of pictures/coloring/words.  You need to put a premium on self-navigation.  From signage outside the facility to signage inside the facility, whether it is directional on the floor, wall, ceiling, and “You are here” maps – make it easy on them to move appropriately from area to area.  You want it to be simple enough that they can navigate on their own without having to engage your staff for directions.

“Simply, to have a customer-friendly experience, BE FRIENDLY!”

 

Processes – This is about proactive and digital instructions. How you help them and how you help them help themselves are both very important. View yourself as an educator of customers for how they can have the best experience possible. From the moment they walk in the door (or even before they enter your building!), proactively engage them with questions and directions to get them started on a great experience. Ensure you have a website that gives the specific aisle and bin where an item is located or specific in-facility directions on how to get to a particular office.

Products & Services – Whether self-service inside or outside/curbside service, there needs to be an opportunity for contactless delivery. This is where you look at all the different digital and hands-free ways that customers can either get their own need met onsite while engaging employees as little as possible or set up an entire process such that they can pull up outside your facility and get whatever physical documentation or product is required. Define services that allow them to get what they need with limited or no physical contact with your staff.

People – Finally, with less face-to-face interaction, oftentimes impeded by a mask, those interactions have to be that much better. Simply, your staff need to know how to smile with their eyes. Simply, to have a customer-friendly experience, BE FRIENDLY! It’s easy as a leader to overthink things. If they are in your buildings less, appreciate them during each engagement more. If they proactively initiate conversations with you less, proactively initiate conversations with them more. Extra courtesy and respect are vital when people make the extra effort to safely come to and enter our facilities.

To have a customer friendly COVID-19 walk-in experience, ensure you’re taking a comprehensive approach. Along with all the medically necessary strides you’re taking, view the overall experience through the customer’s eyes. Address the Places, Processes, Products, and People aspects of their experience.


Defining Organizational Agility in a Time of Uncertainty

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You may have heard references in management theory over the many decades about the importance of a business being an “Agile” organization, but oftentimes that is a word thrown out in generalities to illustrate vague points about how organizations should be managed and make decisions.  In this time of COVID, however, the definition of an Agile business and how that comes into play in a real world, real-time situation has rarely been so clear.

 

Agile businesses will be far more successful through this economic and healthcare uncertainty, so let’s start by defining the Agile business. The synonyms of Agility are: Nimble, Spry, Light-Footed, Flexible, Deft, Coordinated.

 

Here are some core questions about your organization to consider:  How nimble is your company?  How flexible are you in dealing with the vicissitudes of internal and external change?  How coordinated are the different divisions, leaders, and business lines with each other?

 

“Agile businesses will be far more successful through this economic and healthcare uncertainty.”

 

These are core questions that you need to answer if you want to be able to change quickly and effectively how you operate as you are impacted by change that’s outside of your immediate control.

 

The Opposite of Agile

If these questions are too abstract, consider the brutal honesty of antonyms of Agile: Uncoordinated, Inflexible, Rigid, Stiff, Bungling, Inept, Lumbering.

 

Could any of these terms be applied to your business? Are different divisions ever lacking coordination and communication with each other?  Are processes or people too inflexible at times, not willing to change the way they’ve always done things? Is the quality or efficiency or effectiveness only good enough to get you by as opposed to being representative of a high-performing organization?  Does the organization feel too big and too slow to pivot into a different direction if necessary?

 

In the future, we’ll address how to become more Agile.  For now, ask yourself some key questions about your business so you can determine whether you’re Agile enough to succeed in an environment of uncertainty.