communication | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

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

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? – 1/17/23

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

Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most at-risk of being lost.

But every individual in an organization can help identify at-risk customers.  Let’s ask some questions: When is a complaint a sign of risk?  When is an issue a sign of risk?  When is a lack of activity a sign of risk?

Defining Risk

By Risk we mean…Risk of losing a customer.  Risk of having many customers having the same complaint or issue that your customer is experiencing.  Risk of customers not using your services, not engaging with your business, finding other ways to get their needs met.

As with most aspects of customer service and retention, frontline staff are often best-positioned to help the organization as a whole.

Finding Organizational Issues

If the complaint is about a highly-used process or some aspect of the product or service, that could be a bigger risk for the whole organization if other customers are using that same process, product, or service.  However, when a complaint is about an individual employee, that actually may not be a sign of risk for the whole company.  Maybe it’s a localized situation.

When the issue being discussed is about organizational communications or tools such as website functionality or inconsistency in information flow or content, that could be a risk to the whole organization.  However, if the issue is some characteristic of a transaction that’s unique to that person, that may have less likelihood to be a risk to the organization.

When the lack of activity is because the organization has not been reaching out to the customer, has not kept their relationship fresh, then that could be a risk to the whole organization.  However, when the lack of activity is due to some change in circumstances in the individual’s life, it may not be a sign of risk for the whole company.

Issues that you see one-on-one with your customer may or may not be symptoms of bigger issues for the whole organization, but it’s helpful to the company for you to occasionally take a step back and consider whether a concern for one customer could also impact the many.

Determine if the customer’s issue is an organizational issue.

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Decide Who’s Driving the Bus – 1/10/23

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

I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus?

I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own unique characteristics.  And in different situations, sometimes it’s better for certain of our characteristics to drive our behavior, our attitudes and actions, and other parts of our personality to take a seat further back in the bus.

Sometimes it’s good if we are action-oriented.  Other times, it’s better if we sit and listen, observing the situation. Sometimes it’s preferable to be a team member, and other times it’s preferable to take charge in those emergency situations and direct others in how they can help.

We all have varied skills and attributes that can come to the forefront, but the speaker’s point was that we need to be intentional about which of those attributes takes the reins in a given situation.

Be Situationally Agile

That’s especially true for us in customer service, yet being situationally agile is one of the more challenging skills to hone.  When we reflect on an encounter after it occurs, we often know what would have been the best thing to have said or the best approach to have taken, but in the moment – that’s where we’re often challenged.  In the moment, we need to clearly think “How should I handle this situation?” instead of just jumping in like a reflex.

Take Stock of Your Talents

This requires that you understand your talents and your abilities.  When needed, can you be a great listener?  Can you take the lead and direct professionally?  Can you advise like a consultant, or sell when it’s in the best interest of everyone for you to do so?  Can you calm a situation?  Can you play facilitator to gather in all the ideas?  Can you confidently and convincingly convey your own ideas?

Take a moment now, and simply write down the list of your talents and your abilities.  Focus on your communication skills.  Be very clear on your capabilities so that you can be more intentional about making the right version of yourself the bus driver at the right time.

Decide who’s driving the bus.

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Open Minds and Ornery Customers – 12/13/22

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We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some are disrespectful, and some just flat don’t know how to communicate politely or professionally.  So, it’s understandable why our emotions are triggered, and we can reflect their ornery nature if we’re not careful.

One way to deal with the ornery customer is to have an open mind.  I’m not suggesting that we capitulate to their concern.

Rather, we need our mind to be open to finding new ways to navigate the conversation.  New ways to get to resolution.  New ways to close a conversation.

I’m not talking technique, per se, about how to handle the angry customer.  We’ve dealt with that many times in these tips.  Instead, I’m talking about how we handle ourselves intellectually in a conversation that has the potential to go down the tubes emotionally.

Openness is about allowing the new, the creative, the different, the atypical path forward.  What people can you involve in the conversation or direct the customer to in order to move forward?  What process can you begin that can make the conversation more productive?  Is there an action you can take in front of the customer – right then – to show that you’re in it with them?  Is there an action you can have them do at that moment so they feel like progress has started (and to distract them a little)?  Is there a way to end the conversation with your promise of a follow-up call, e-mail, or text by the end of the day?

When you’re dealing with the ornery customer, you have to deal with the emotions.  But if we keep an open mind about the possible solutions for the situation, maybe that emotion won’t dominate our reaction.  Maybe we can more quickly close the conversation and move to the next step.

Keep an open mind with the ornery customer.

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