clarity | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service - 8/30/22


Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others. The Good… Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But Read more

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

When You Know More Than They Do - 7/19/22


It was 95 degrees outside.  That’s not too bad when you’re inside and enjoying the air conditioning; but when Rachel’s A/C went out, in came Rachel’s worry.  Luckily, she knew the company to call, and a technician from Acme HVAC (fake name, real company) came out the next morning. Rachel Read more

Locke-in from the Start – 12/8/20

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

John Locke was a 17th century English philosopher, physician, and researcher.  He wrote many papers arguing particular points, oftentimes using reason and facts as the basis for his position.  He noted that many disagreements start because there is – in my words – a lack of real clarity about the topic of discussion.

He often liked to start discussions on some pertinent topic by defining key words.  In essence, his position was:  Let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing before we start talking about it.

For those of us working in the customer service world, communication is the source of many issues, and disagreements are especially frustrating when we are miscommunicating about the topic itself.  Here are some examples of topics that the customer wants to discuss, topics that need to be defined first:

  • The customer can’t register.
    • Did they mean register or apply? Are they registering a device or an account or for a class?  Is it for them personally or a product they just bought?
  • The customer wants to talk about their account.
    • Is it really about the account, or is it a login issue to the online account? Is it something regarding an account or an order?  Is it about an e-mail they received about their account?  Is it something odd on a recent account statement?
  • The customer has a question about their property listing.
    • Is it some misinformation online regarding their property, or are they looking at a property assessment hardcopy? Is it about their property card online or how it’s noted in the MLS?
  • The season ticket holder has a question about payment plans.
    • Is it a true “payment plan,” or are they just asking about different ways to pay? Are they concerned with options, progress, terms, how to pay off, or how to cancel?

To avoid unnecessary conflicts and address needs and issues more quickly, ensure your definition matches the customer’s definition.

Locke in a common definition of the topic from the start.

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Make it Abundantly Clear – 1/14/20

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

Becky was laying in her hospital bed and staring at the whiteboard on the wall.  It had a room number, the room’s phone number, and the date.  It had the pictures of the pain scale, with happy-to-sad faces and ratings from 0-10.  It noted when the last meds were administered and when the next meds were scheduled.  It talked about goals for the day and key next steps.  And it mentioned what diet she was on and what activities and precautions applied to her.  

Maybe even more importantly, it listed her Care Team. There was Dr. Smith.  There was her nurse, Victoria.  There was her CNA, Rodica, her therapist, Sharon, and others as well.  Next to each one of the caregiver names was a personal phone number.

Just by looking at the whiteboard, whether Becky was by herself or with family members, she knew what was going on.  She knew what the next step would be for her care.  She knew what she could and could not do.  And she knew who to contact and how to contact them directly for whatever needs she had.

Even more so, any individual that walked in the room – whether family, friend, or caregiver – had all the exact same information right at eye level.

This was a simple communication tool.  In the 21st century, a whiteboard doesn’t seem so valuable, but it was INCREDIBLY valuable to Becky!

So much of anxiety and fear relates to the unknown.  So much of confusion or concern or potential conflict comes from being in the dark.

To build your customer’s confidence and their comfort level with your organization, find ways to make it abundantly clear exactly who to contact and for what in your organization.  Find ways to make it abundantly clear what the customer has the capabilities to do on their own.  Find ways to make it abundantly clear what the next steps will be and when they will happen.

To create a confident customer, make it abundantly clear.

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Assuming the Solution – The Great Time Waster – 12/3/19

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

Here are 3 customer service scenarios for a college IT department:

  1. A staff member calls in and says that they’re having trouble logging in.  The employee responds:  “I can reset your password for you.
  2. A faculty member calls IT and says: “I need help showing a video during class next week; do you know Meredith?”  The employee says “Oh, I know Meredith; let me get you in touch with Career Development where she works.”
  3. The employee asks the staff person from the other department “do you know what the status is on that work order?”  The other individual responds “I’m trying to get to it as fast as I can; I’ll put a rush job on it for you.”

One reaction to these scenarios is that the person responding is being very proactive.  They are jumping on the request and coming up with a quick solution or next step. Unfortunately, these are conversations where assumptions took place, and each assumption was wrong.

In the first case, the login difficulty had nothing to do with the password.  In the second case, Meredith had worked with IT before and was suggesting that the faculty member contact IT for support.  In the third example, they weren’t looking for a rush on the work order.  They were seeking an update just to make sure it would be done when needed.

Many customer service people are so responsive and so willing to help that they can run to the next step to try to get the ball rolling and to resolve an issue.  But if that’s done before clarifying and confirming what that real issue may be, they may be solving a problem that doesn’t exist.  They may be taking action down one path without realizing they’re going in the wrong direction.

These are examples we saw at a University client years ago, and these are examples that we see in mystery shopping that we conduct for clients today.

Be proactive. Be responsive. Take action on behalf of the customer.  However, first make sure that you clearly understand what they’re seeking before you take that action.

Don’t assume the answer and waste your time and the customer’s time as well.

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