blame | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help 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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