customer retention | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24


Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24


There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24


I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24


When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

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

Define Customer Service Success Differently – 2/6/24

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

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 fame, fortune, awards, power, position.

I believe success can be defined in a lot of ways having nothing to do with any of those accomplishments.  Sometimes those outcomes shouldn’t be the definitions of success.  So, especially as it relates to customer service, let’s define Success differently.

Noted below are three quotes.  Let’s look at how they apply to our work in trying to become successful in customer service.

Effort measures success better than outcome.

When we’re engaged with the customer or dealing with a difficult situation at the office, we can control ourselves, our response, or approach to the conversation.  We cannot always control the environment; we can rarely control the other people involved.  But the environment and the others involved affect the outcome of the situation.  So, don’t get down on yourself if the outcome wasn’t what you were hoping for or the overall tone of the conversation did not strike the right chord.  Define success as having done your best.

The cost of success is exceeded only by the cost of failure.

There’s rarely a perfect solution to a complex situation.  But in the vast majority of the cases, doing something gives you a better chance of success than doing nothing.  Deciding to respond to the e-mail or the voicemail when you don’t have an answer, instead of not responding at all.  Taking action on behalf of the customer instead of hoping that – by ignoring them – they will go away.  In customer service, the cost of doing nothing is a higher likelihood of failure, of losing the customer, of engendering that negative word-of-mouth, of creating bigger issues for your co-workers down the road.

Don’t be irreplaceable.  If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

Too many people feel that knowledge is power.  They believe in hoarding information or their experience or their expertise so that only they can use it.  This is not only a sign of somebody who’s not a team player, but it can actually be a deterrence to career development.  If we don’t share with others and try to build up and support our teammates, why would leadership want to move us up knowing that they would have a void they cannot fill?

Don’t define success purely based on the outcome.  Define customer service success by your efforts, your willingness to take action on behalf of the customer, and your willingness to impart your knowledge and wisdom to others.

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Frame the Ways to Get Back Your Customer – 3/7/23

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Every organization that gains customers is in a position to lose customers.  For the sports organization, it’s the lost account holder.  For the healthcare provider, it’s the member who enrolls with the competitor at the end of the year.  The retailer, the software provider, the financial services firm – lost customers occur, typically with clear financial repercussions.  Even with local government, it’s the customer moving elsewhere, the customer circumventing the system, the resident griping and complaining.  Maybe that loss is loss of support, but it is still a loss.

So, if you’re smart enough or lucky enough to get a chance to identify the reason for the loss, maybe there’s a chance you win them back.  Or at least there’s a good chance that you can put some improvement in place to mitigate similar losses in the future.

If you’re formulating a survey or talking with the customer, create some structure around how you ask about exit reasons.  Use this framework as a starting point:  Think about Product, People, Process, Policy, and the Place.  You’re trying to get a holistic view of the customer experience in those controllable categories of exit reasons.

For Product or Service, what about the product could have been improved?  What could have been done so it stood out a little more relative to the competition?

For People, think about the organization, the culture, how those communications flow and how those relationships are developed.  Ask the customer about the attitude, skills, knowledge of your team.  How do they communicate with the customer?  And did the company as a whole proactively communicate with the customer – trying to keep the relationship strong?

Regarding Process, how self-evident is the experience?  What are the wait times or lead times like for the customer?  Is everything as self-evident as possible?  Are the terminology and technology and paperwork simple enough and clear enough for any customer to understand and navigate?

Do the Policies restrict the customer experience or enhance it?  Are policies conveyed clearly, and are they in the best interests of the customer?

And what about the Place?  This could mean the physical facility or the environment that people experience online or with your apps.  Is it intuitive and clear and, again, easy to navigate?

There are many reasons why companies lose customers.  To win them back, organize your thoughts within this framework.

Consider the Product, the People, the Process, the Policy, and the Place.

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How to Make the Situation Right – 12/28/21

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The manager in the field office felt that – when problems arose with customers – the company didn’t do an especially good job of responding effectively.  He felt like this was hurting customer renewals of annual service agreements.  The company developed many customer service and retention initiatives with little benefit.  So they solicited ideas from three of their best technicians.

The manager gathered the techs in a room and identified existing customers with common issues that weren’t yet resolved.  After sharing the situations with the techs, he sent them off to individually come up with the best solutions.

The next day, the manager met again with the technicians to hear their ideas.  The first tech – Jackie – researched data on her customer, and offered her best guess on what would satisfy the customer and get them to renew their contract.

The next technician – Mark – focused on the issue with the customer’s system, and he came up with an idea for how to compensate the customer for the issue and fix the system.

The third tech – Stacey – came up with what seemed like a crazy idea.  She didn’t offer compensation.  She didn’t focus on past customer history in the database.  The other three people in the room looked at each other but didn’t say a word in response.  Finally, the manager said:  Why would you possibly think that’s the way to resolve the issue and to retain the customer?

Stacey responded:  Because I called him up and asked what was his understanding of the issue and what we could do to fix it.  This is what he suggested.  It sounded reasonable and was within policy, so we went ahead and fixed it.

We can spend a lot of time coming up with the most creative and complex and high compensation ideas to address service recovery situations.  Yet, sometimes the quickest and easiest way to identify a solution in a service recovery situation is to ask them.

Consider asking the customer what would make the situation right.

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