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“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

Keep in Mind 3 Key Questions – 11/22/22

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

Customers want to be heard.  If they have an issue or need or something that requires your support, they want to be understood.

When we are trying to find a resolution or fulfill a need, when we’re trying to help a customer achieve their goal, sometimes we can be so immersed in the details of the situation that we lose sight of the big picture. Other times, we can be so focused on our policies or our procedures, our products or protocols, that we’re not truly seeing this from the customer’s perspective.  And in this day and age, sometimes we’re just so busy that we don’t have the time or patience or inclination the handle the situation correctly.

To simplify things for ourselves and increase the opportunity for success for the customer, when you have the responsibility to support the customer in addressing their issue, need, or goal, keep in mind 3 Key Questions:

What’s their STORY?

Ask about their situation.  Try to understand a little bit about who they are as a person and the lens through which they’re viewing what’s going on.  Note where they’re coming from so that you know the starting point from where you can lead them.

What’s their GOAL?

Sometimes the customers are really good at giving us the game plan for how they want us to fix their situation, but often their game plans won’t work.  There’s some policy or time constraint or procedure or approach in their plan that will not work.  So, put yourself in the role of being the solution-provider – understand their goal.  And once you understand, keep this goal at the forefront of the remainder of the conversation.

What’s their PATH?

This is where you, as the expert, truly become the solution-provider.  You know their story…so you can empathize.  You know their goal…so you understand the desired outcome.  Now, you can map out a path for getting from their point A to the desired point B, and you can describe that path based on your understanding of the individual in front of you in the story they have told.

When you are helping somebody out of a bad situation or getting a need addressed, when you’re dealing with somebody who has a certain goal and they don’t know how to get there, simplify things for yourself.  Keep 3 Key Questions top-of-mind to help you navigate the conversation.

What’s their Story?  What’s their Goal?  What’s their Path?

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Use Your Customer Service Freedoms – 7/6/21

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We’re only a couple days past Independence Day here in the United States.  So it may be a good time for us in the customer service world to think about our freedoms, to think about what we have the liberties to do, to reinforce how this all plays out with our work lives and our interactions with co-workers and customers.

Freedom does not necessarily mean we can do anything we want irrespective of the consequences, but freedom does convey that we have options.  We have choices.  And in those customer service Moments of Truth, these choices can often impact us as much as they impact those that we’re serving.

  • When somebody comes at us negatively, we can’t always control our initial emotional reaction, but we can control how we respond in the situation.
  • When we don’t know the answer, we have the choice to dump the responsibility for finding the answer back on the customer, simply sharing that we don’t know, or sharing that we don’t know but taking the initiative to find out.
  • When we are made aware of a process or communication or service issue, we can address the issue for that one customer and just leave it there. Alternatively, we can at least determine whether this was a 1-time occurrence or whether this could happen 100 times in 100 days to 100 different customers.
  • We have the choice to come into work and complain all day long to co-workers, or we can come into work to encourage each other and try to look for the good in the day.
  • We have the choice to feel like the entire decision and responsibility has to be only on our own shoulders, or we can seek the opinions and guidance of others.
  • We have the choice to ignore e-mails and voice mails until the person follows up 2 or 3 times, or we can choose to respond on a timely basis.

 
We are often put in bad situations in customer service.  Many of these rough situations are not of our doing; they are not our fault.  But that doesn’t mean we are left without choices.  That doesn’t mean we are left without freedoms.  If anything, in these situations there is so much more to consider and potentially do in order to manage our own emotions, build others up, or do what’s within our authority and our capabilities to make a difference.

Use your freedoms in such a way that the company, the customers, and you, yourself, have better days.

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How to Give the Right Kind of “No” – 5/28/19

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


In a perfect world, you never need to say “No” to the customer. But as we all know, this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of issues in the world, and there are a lot of issues in customer service. Our companies are not perfect, our co-workers are not perfect, and our solutions to customer issues are rarely perfect.

The customer wants you to fix their issue or address their need, and often they are telling you HOW you should fix that issue or address that need. Frequently, their solutions won’t work. You can’t always waive a policy, change a process, or do something in 5 minutes that takes 5 days. You have to say No.

But there are ways to say No that are giving the right kind of No. Here are 3 quick steps to consider:

Convey Why the No: Before you say No to their solution, make sure they understand WHY their idea won’t work. In a professional way, explain the rationale so they understand it’s not a matter of you being obstinate. There’s an objectivity to your response.

Link Your Solution to Their Goal: They may suggest a certain process, but what is their goal? They may want something done, but what is their goal? They may say they want it in 5 minutes, but what is their goal? Their goal may be having a great event, getting a remedy before they hold a meeting, having a working product, getting financing for a house, or feeling better. If you can understand their desired outcome and get them to think about the goal instead of the solution, then you can link your solution to their goal.

Offer the Options: Finally, suggest alternatives that achieve their goal. Particularly if you can offer more than one solution, it gives them some control over deciding the next step. Even if there’s only one solution, by attaching it to their goal, they’re envisioning the eventual success.

Taking this approach will keep the temperature of the conversation low, put you in control, and lead to more productive and positive conversations.

Give the right kind of “No” response.

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