blame | 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

How to Handle the Customer’s Error – 10/18/22

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

Are all of your customers perfect?  Anyone?  Bueller?

Of course, customers are not perfect.  Neither are we, but let’s focus this Tip on what they do wrong and what we can do about it in a professional, positive, and productive manner:

  • When the customer isn’t clear, you respond: Is it OK if I ask you a couple of quick questions just to make sure I understand the situation?
  • When the customer doesn’t complete the form, you respond: To make sure we get this moving for you, I just wanted to get some additional information.
  • When the customer calls the wrong number, you respond: Since I’m not the best one to address that for you, let me get you in touch with the person who can help you.
  • When the customer goes to the wrong location, you respond: I’ll be happy to show you the best way to get to where you need to be.
  • When the customer leaves out some facts in a situation, you respond: Just to make sure I’m clear, I’m going to walk through my understanding of what we just discussed. Where they left out the facts, you ask: Now, what happened at this point?
  • When the customer gave you the wrong information, you respond: Unfortunately, I’m not able to pull up that account, but let’s try a different method.

 
Notice that we are avoiding blame.  We are using a lot of phraseology that deals with you, as the employee, gaining clarification or understanding.  We are not calling anything an error as much as we are using terms that convey we are making this as complete as possible, or getting the best person to address the need.  We are identifying what the issue is without noting who caused the issue.  We are often talking about why we are asking the question or talking about a particular topic.

When addressing the customer’s error, be professional, positive, and productive.

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Make Sure it’s Not a “YOU Problem” – 8/15/17

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


There’s a TV personality in the sports world that has a phrase that he says frequently – “That’s a YOU Problem.” For example, he might say “If you have a problem with Joe Athlete and don’t respect or like him, then that’s a YOU Problem.” OR he might say, “If you don’t like how Team ABC goes about its business, then that’s a YOU Problem.”

Essentially what he is saying is that no rational person should have a problem with this individual or with this team.

Whether or not we would agree with his assessment, there is an application to his statement for the world of customer service.

Oftentimes, we have a problem when dealing with certain co-workers, certain types of people (Millennials? People in authority positions?), certain customers, certain vendors, or certain personality types. We don’t enjoy interacting with these folks, and it’s because of some problem we have with them.

But before we assume that the issue that we have with them is 100% their fault, it’s sometimes beneficial for us to ask the question that the sports personality asks – “Is that a YOU Problem?” In other words, what biases or preconceived notions or personal preferences or life experiences am I bringing into a conversation that is making the issue happen or at least making it bigger than necessary?

Think of somebody that you don’t get along with well. Think of somebody that you don’t enjoy interacting with during the course of your workday. Now take a step back and simply ask yourself “What is it about me or how I engage with this individual during these encounters that could make the situations unpleasant or ineffective? Is a fully a “Them” problem, or is it somewhat of a “Me” problem?

Maybe in 99% of the cases you are right – there’s something about this other person that is causing these interactions to be negative or poor. But at least take a step back and see if you have a part in the difficulties.

Maybe there’s an opportunity to eliminate the problem you have with this other person if you were more self-aware and changed something yourself.

Make sure it’s not a “YOU Problem.”

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30 Minutes or Free – 1/6/15 TOW

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I once worked as a Domino’s Pizza delivery person. It was a GREAT job during summer as a college kid, in particular. You get to drive around, make pizzas, and if a customer canceled an order – you get to eat free! I had a plastic cup in my house filled with cash from tips – it made me feel wealthy at the time (even if they were just 20-25 $1 bills).

This was a while ago – when bell-bottom pants were in (Were they ever really “in”?), when I knew how to drive stick shift, and when Domino’s had its 30 minute guarantee. The 30 minute guarantee stated that if the pizza arrived more than 30 minutes after it was ordered, you’d get it for free!

At the time, I was working in the first Domino’s store in a small town in North Carolina, and one of my deliveries was to a home in a relatively new neighborhood. I looked at the map hanging on the wall (this was pre-GPS and smart phones), wrote down my directions, and headed out. As I entered the development, I took my first right, my next left, and I was well on the way to getting there just in the nick of time – until it happened. I was on the right street, about a quarter-mile from the house, and all I had to do was drive down this road, take a left, and I was there.

But the road I was on was a dead-end. It hadn’t been completed. There was a fence at the end of the road, about 50 feet of undeveloped land, and then I could see that the road started up again on the other side. I had to improvise, and improvise I did! I found the house! But I was 5 minutes late.

They got 2 pizzas for free, but I received a nice tip. Then I went back to Domino’s, having just delivered the first free pizzas in this store’s history.

I explained what happened to the manager, he said “okay,” he walked over to the map, drew lines to show where the street was a dead-end, and went back to making pizzas. There was no blame.

In life, in customer service, and in the pizza world, sometimes things just happen. Sometimes it’s a bad experience, it’s a delay, or it’s a free pizza. And sometimes, there’s no reason to spread blame. Responsibility is something we should be quick to accept, but blame is something we should be slow to pin on others.

Blame is rarely solution-oriented, it rarely benefits the customer, it rarely fosters goodwill or a healthy culture. Focus on responsibility and lessons learned, and avoid the focus on blame.

Be okay with giving away the occasional free pizza.

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