alternative solution | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 6

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

The Miracle of an Apology - 3/19/24


Unfortunate but true story… The manager basically lost his mind.  He terminated his employee on the spot.  She had told the customer that there was going to be a delay in the shipment.  The employee called up the customer ahead of time to let the customer know what was about Read more

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait - 3/12/24


Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax Read more

Lessons from the Greats - 3/5/24


I was recently facilitating a workshop on the customer experience, and I made the point that it’s usually beneficial to look at your personal life for great experiences; identify what really resonates with you in a positive way in order to uncover ideas to improve your own customer service. So, Read more

The Empathy Roadmap - 2/27/24


For some people, empathy comes naturally.  There’s an innate desire to learn about the other person and to sincerely convey that sense of interest and caring.  But for many of us, sometimes it helps to have a communication plan.  It helps to know what to do in order to Read more

“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

Sell the Facts – 4/14/15 TOW

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


If there’s one thing I’ve heard repeatedly throughout the years it’s that MANY customer service people hate to sell. I’ve also heard that great salesmen are great at “servicing” their accounts. Now as “customer service people,” we can all agree that sales people who have a service-focus should perform better. We’re wired to serve, so naturally we’d feel that sales people would benefit from some similar wiring.

But customer service people don’t like to sell. We say: “It’s pushy. It’s product-driven, not people-focused. It’s uncomfortable. It’s me-focused instead of you-focused.”

In many ways those thoughts are correct, but we have to get over those stereotypes about selling and sales people. For customer service people to be the best we can be, we have to learn how to sell.

Think of selling using a different word – persuasion. We are often giving customers options to consider. They can renew their account today or next month. They could take medicine A or medicine B. They could pay online or in-person. They could return an item or get it repaired. They could return this semester or drop out of college.

Often – as service-focused individuals – we want to offer options and provide the facts for their decision, and then we stop.

But in our gut, if we truly care about that customer with us, we often know there’s a better option. We know that customers similar to them preferred a particular alternative. We know that – based on their unique personality, their specific issues, or their personal goals – one way is better than the other.

It’s their decision, but if we really want to provide great customer service, we need to use our skills to persuade them toward what decision may be best for them.

“While there are different times when you could renew, based on your preference for that location, I recommend you renew today to lock in those seats.”

“When we’ve had patients in your situation, they preferred medicine A because there are minimal side effects.”

“When people haven’t dined with us before, we often recommend this dish – it’s our specialty and really gives you a sense of what makes this experience special.”

When you’re serving, don’t be adverse to selling – particularly if selling is simply persuading the customer to make the best decision for them.

When offering options, don’t just state the facts – sell them.

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Practice Active Root Core Thinking…Huh? – 11/18/14 TOW

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We need to be “Active Listeners.” We need to be “Critical Thinkers.” We need to find the “Root Cause” and determine the “Core Need.”

You hear similar statements all the time, and, yes, these are all important things, but what do they really mean? Here are some examples:

You’re a fan relations representative for a pro sports club, and the season ticket holder asks if they can relocate from their seats to a certain section with no availability. Instead of simply saying “No,” ask “Is there something in particular you like about that section?” You might uncover a reason for their move that could be addressed elsewhere.

You work for a local municipality, and the developer says they need a permit. Instead of assuming what permit they need, you could say “I’d be happy to help you with that! Tell me a little about the project so I can best help you get started.”

You work for a hospital, and the patient says they “need a smoke.” Of course, it’s a smoke-free campus, so you say “Unfortunately, we can’t do that since it’s a smoke-free campus, but help me understand what you’re feeling that’s making you want to smoke, and maybe I can find a way to help you.”

If you are someone interested in being an “Active Listener” or a “Critical Thinker,” someone interested in “Root Causes” or “Core Needs,” that’s a good desire to have – especially in customer service. But don’t get too hung up on the fancy terms. Look at the three examples just provided to truly understand what’s being suggested by those terms:

  • Be inquisitive; ask questions – they show you’re engaged and care.
  • Understand their goal, so you can better understand potential solutions.
  • Don’t make assumptions – you might waste your time and that of the customer by going down the wrong path based on misinformation.
  • Be patient – don’t hear the symptom and think you know the root cause.
  • Restate your understanding of the person’s needs; ensure you know so specifically what they want that you can address it right the first time.

 
Practice Active Root Core Thinking…or just plain old good communication skills.

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Review the Failures of Others to Ensure Success – 7/22/14 TOW

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“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Many people have said variations of this – from George Santayana to Lemony Snicket – and I’m saying it today because it reminds me of a question I was asked recently.

A French financial services firm interviewed me about customer service and client retention for their internal publication. One of the questions addressed the many seemingly excellent customer service strategies and initiatives that don’t work. Essentially, why do they fail?

Here are four key reasons I provided:

  • Leadership Doesn’t Really Buy-In – Although leaders may talk about the importance of customer service and the client experience, they make decisions based on the product, they create incentives focused on new sales only, they sign-off on strategies that focus purely on reducing cost per unit. They talk the customer service talk, but their structures and incentives don’t align with service and retention goals. Here’s an example if you haven’t heard the recent Comcast customer retention call?
  • The Company Doesn’t Dedicate Resources – While an organization may care about the customer, if there’s no designated individual, division, strategy, or budget that focuses on service and retention, it won’t work. Sustaining an organization-wide effort is impossible if the initiative is 5% of the jobs of many without ever being the totality of the job of at least a few people in the organization.
  • The CX Definition is Limited – A small business owner laughed at me once when I brought up the concept of Internal Customers. He didn’t believe that employees should view and treat each other as customers. He didn’t believe that the customer experience (CX) applied to anyone within the corporate walls. He thought culture was irrelevant in driving a great service experience and retention. Zappos would disagree.
  • Tactic Supersedes Strategic – Too many companies conduct a survey, change a computer system, start a call center, send out memos telling staff to answer calls in 3 rings, and then expect their customer service scores and retention rates to jump off the charts. For organizations to be great at customer service, they need to view their organization as a system – where all the people, processes, programs, and technology interrelate and work for the good of the customer and company. Have a strategy for sustained service excellence and growth; tactics should then flow from that strategic view.

 
Align Around the Customer, Dedicate Resources, Look Within, and Think Strategically.

Ensure your organization doesn’t repeat the failures of business history.

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