agile | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Sharpen Your Service Delivery - 1/9/24


You work so hard at being responsive and providing high quality information.  You work hard at fixing problems.  But is your delivery…dull? I’m not saying that it has to be exciting, but let’s think of the word “exciting.”  It means that something’s interesting, has energy, is positive.  Just by its Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower - 1/2/24


I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility. Immediately, one of the hands in the Read more

Holiday Poem 2023 - 12/26/23


The days are getting longer, The skies are getting brighter. Festivities behind us, And festivities before us.   There’s ups and downs and change coming, And we can’t predict when or where. There’s challenges and joys and opportunities around, Of which you may or may not be aware.   But one thing we know as we look at each Read more

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Refocus - 12/19/23


It’s that time of year.  We’re going 100 miles an hour, and holiday time is upon us.  We not only have all the work to do, but we somehow have less time to do it.  We somehow have other things that are of competing interest, and even though those 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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