clarity | 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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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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