agile | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

Recognize the Situation, and Pivot – 1/16/24

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

The customer has a complaint, or they may have an important question about an order or their account.  You may be talking to them in an emergency room, in the lobby of the government building, on the phone, or in a video conversation.  And in many of these Moments of Truth, there is a high likelihood of the customer’s perceptions being affected based on how you handle the situation.

This is a Moment of Truth because of the topic, or the situation itself.  The Topic could be the complaint, the question about an order or an account, an encounter with a new customer, or engagement with somebody who’s upset.  The Situation could be a stressful emergency room visit, an encounter with a government agency, a wait time at the restaurant, or the arrival of the tech at the house 60 minutes after the scheduled time.

During these Moments of Truth, the employees have some control over the interaction. While it’s up to the customer to create their perception about the organization or the employee, this is where the employee needs to understand the critical nature of the topic, the critical nature of the situation.

Recognize the Critical Nature

The best employees in customer service recognize the critical nature of these situations and become agile. They have the ability to pivot – to flex their attitudes and actions in the moment.

The best can stop all other activities and focus on that individual.  They can downshift, pulling their emotions back to keep the situation calm.  They understand the frustration with wait times, and proactively communicate with the customer to decrease the perception of the wait and reduce the angst and anger.  Staff have empathy for the customer and convey understanding of the situation back to that customer.  The best staff have patience, speak with a specific intent for how to best communicate with that particular individual, and work through these situations with and for the customer.  They recognize and pivot.

Identify the critical Topics and Situations that you encounter.  Get in-tune with these situations, recognize when these critical moments are happening, and adjust your behaviors and words to deliver a great experience.

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Change on the Fly – 5/30/23

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

Situational service requires some advanced engagement skills.  It involves seeing each situation independent of any others, reading the moment, and changing on the fly to create the best possible customer experience and outcomes.  So, what are some keys to situational service?  Keep these guiding principles in mind:

Start Open-minded: When the customer engages you, avoid assumptions about them and their situation.  Don’t let the first impression cloud what might be the deeper issue or need, the background of the situation, the person themselves.  It’s more effective to start by being open, and then narrow the focus after gathering information; it’s less effective to start with a preconceived notion, and then have to later backtrack or restart the conversation.

Gauge the Emotion: While we focus on words, since that conveys much of the specifics of a situation, the emotions can convey how they feel about the issue or need.  Note in their tone and body language, specifically, how they feel so that you can use that information to determine how to handle the situation.

Uncover the Urgency: Determine whether time is a concern, whether that’s in-the-moment or for the final resolution.  That time consideration will help you to understand their feelings better, but it will also help you to understand whether to respond by reiterating timing and next steps, or to focus more on their feelings and solution options.

Adjust to the Situation: The first 3 guiding principles ensure you get the information you need (the facts, their emotions, and time considerations) to handle the situation most effectively.  Now, adjust.  Settle them down first, addressing any anxiety, anger, confusion, or upset with the right technique for the emotion, or move directly to the issue and solutions if the negative emotions aren’t present.  Be patient if they care more about the conversation and the process, or quickly get to the point if there’s urgency involved.

When you’re engaged with the customer, get the facts, gauge the emotions, and clarify times.  Then focus on providing the best service for the situation.

To excel in service, develop your ability to change on the fly.

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

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

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 unique characteristics.  And in different situations, sometimes it’s better for certain of our characteristics to drive our behavior, our attitudes and actions, and other parts of our personality to take a seat further back in the bus.

Sometimes it’s good if we are action-oriented.  Other times, it’s better if we sit and listen, observing the situation. Sometimes it’s preferable to be a team member, and other times it’s preferable to take charge in those emergency situations and direct others in how they can help.

We all have varied skills and attributes that can come to the forefront, but the speaker’s point was that we need to be intentional about which of those attributes takes the reins in a given situation.

Be Situationally Agile

That’s especially true for us in customer service, yet being situationally agile is one of the more challenging skills to hone.  When we reflect on an encounter after it occurs, we often know what would have been the best thing to have said or the best approach to have taken, but in the moment – that’s where we’re often challenged.  In the moment, we need to clearly think “How should I handle this situation?” instead of just jumping in like a reflex.

Take Stock of Your Talents

This requires that you understand your talents and your abilities.  When needed, can you be a great listener?  Can you take the lead and direct professionally?  Can you advise like a consultant, or sell when it’s in the best interest of everyone for you to do so?  Can you calm a situation?  Can you play facilitator to gather in all the ideas?  Can you confidently and convincingly convey your own ideas?

Take a moment now, and simply write down the list of your talents and your abilities.  Focus on your communication skills.  Be very clear on your capabilities so that you can be more intentional about making the right version of yourself the bus driver at the right time.

Decide who’s driving the bus.

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