alternative solution | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 7

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

It’s Okay if You Don’t Know Anything about Tomatoes – 7/15/14 TOW

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


Going to Otto’s Home Improvement to get an opinion on a tomato – it shouldn’t be an aggravating experience. But for Lance, it resulted in a nail-on-the-chalkboard (do they still have chalkboards?) feeling.

Lance’s wife was growing tomatoes on the back deck, and several tomatoes were growing quickly. Good news, right? Well there was a problem – the tomatoes were still green on top but becoming black underneath and starting to shrivel up.

Luckily Lance had a “go to” lady in the garden center at Otto’s, so he drove to the store seeking advice. He walked up to 4 staff chatting with each other at the garden center entrance and asked for the “go to” lady, but she was off that day.

So Lance showed a tomato to others and asked for advice. He was greeted by blank stares and no response for about 15 seconds. Then one employee walked up, took the tomato, looked closely, said “that’s a fungus,” and started walking.

Lance took off after the employee, and they walked into the store toward the outdoor chemicals. The employee stopped in front of the plant chemicals, started staring, and didn’t say a word. After about a minute of quiet staring, Lance asked “what are you looking for?”

“A green bottle,” was the reply.

“What is it?”

“I’m not sure, but it works.”

“What brand?

“I don’t know.” There was a long pause, and then the employee said “it’s not there; sorry.” He walked off.

Lance was able to grab the tomato before the employee walked away and then went home to his wife. The next day Lance’s wife took the tomato to another garden center, and the issue was a lack of calcium. The store sold her a spray to add calcium, and the tomatoes grew perfectly thereafter.

In the world of serving others, none of us are omniscient. We don’t know all, and that’s okay. In those times when we don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say “I don’t know,” but follow that up with “I’ll find out.” Take initiative on behalf of the customer, but don’t let that initiative lead you down a path of time wasted and misinformation. Admit the knowledge gap, and quickly move to get the answer.

It’s okay to say you don’t know anything about tomatoes.

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Give the Customer a Plan B – 1/28/14 TOW

Posted on in Customer Service Tip of the Week 1 Comment


I was walking into my local bank branch a couple Saturdays ago to make a deposit. While I usually go through the drive-through, I didn’t have any deposit slips left, so I had to get some new ones at the bank. When I entered the lobby, I got the feeling of dread in my chest – 20 people in line ahead of me. I stopped, took a deep breath to calm the impatient side of me, and proceeded to the line to become customer #21.

After three minutes, I assessed the situation (3 tellers, 20 people in line, nobody had yet moved). I mentally calculated a wait time that would stretch into lunch if not dinner. And then I got an idea. I picked up a few deposit slips, and I left.

Sitting in the car, I filled out a slip, went to the drive-through (where there was NOBODY in line), and was on my way in less than 2 minutes.

At this point I realized that it would have been wonderful if an employee in the bank lobby had stated to the 21 of us in line “There’s no wait at the drive-through.”

The lesson learned? This is the 21st century. This is the era of an exorbitant number of customer service channels for most businesses (walk-in, phone, drive-through, self-service, web, e-mail, social media, etc.). And many customers who are in one channel are going to get very upset with a business because that method of obtaining service is slow, cumbersome, manual, or simply not a great customer experience.

The lesson learned is that businesses need to find ways to educate the customers on the other channels on an ongoing basis and real-time, so that the customer doesn’t feel trapped and doesn’t take out the bad experience on the company.

This involves having an ongoing Touch Point Plan with clients that includes periodic educational communications about the other channels, how to access them, and their benefits. This requires that companies know real-time what channels are performing like greased lightning and which ones are stuck in neutral. And this requires that employees get in the habit of “Educating Forward” – where they let customers know other channels available to them in case the preferred method of service is delayed or backlogged.

When it comes to providing a positive experience, sometimes the best path is the one that helps them avoid the bad experience. Give the customer a Plan B.


Dan the Yard Man Keeps the Customer Moving – 10/15/13 TOW

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


When “Dan the Yard Man” came to Lori’s home for a quick consultation, she was looking for advice. Many parts of the yard were having issues – grass not growing, erosion in the dirt, etc. Dan’s company maintains the feed on the yard and does aeration, but Lori had put off aerating her yard until she got more of a game plan for how to fix its issues.

As Lori listened to Dan, she realized two things clearly – what he could do and what he could not do. She also learned one other thing from Dan – he can actually tell you “No” in such a way that you feel good about it!

Dan told Lori what he could address on the lawn with soil testing, fertilizer, and weed killer when needed. But it was amazing how he handled the discussion of what he could NOT do:

  • He couldn’t aerate soon because their schedule was booked 6 weeks out, but he suggested how Lori could get some seed germinating on her own in some of the tough areas.
  • He couldn’t grow regular fescue grass in some of the shady areas, so he noted how he had been transitioning to shade grass.
  • Dan could not promise that he could get grass to grow in some especially shaded areas because they were only getting 1-2 hours of sun each day, but he suggested that Lori ask the “tree guys” she was calling about where they felt their tree trimming could impact the amount of sun the lawn receives.
  • Dan couldn’t guarantee that grass could ever grow in current conditions on the left side of the house, but he suggested that Lori consider a natural area similar to what she had on the right side of the house.

Great customer service does not always require that we find a way to personally say “Yes” to every customer request. Sometimes great customer service is about knowing an alternative when you have to say “No.”

When you have to say “No,” keep the customer moving to the next step.