customer service | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

When You Can’t Say “Yes to the Address” - 2/7/23


I was interviewing a frontline staff person for one of our local government clients recently as part of our CSS Training Development Process.  They described their customers and the difficult situations that they face, their tougher conversations with customers. This individual supports local events, so there’s a lot of planning involved.  Read more

How to Fix Other People’s Problems - 1/31/23


I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone - let’s call her Katie. There had been poor communication between different Read more

What to do When You’re in the Middle - 1/24/23


Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being Read more

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


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 Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee – 9/6/22

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

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 to be emphatic.  There are many times when the customer lacks confidence or clarity, they are uncertain or anxious.  And it is part of our role to build that confidence, convey more clarity, and offer certainty to help overcome the anxiety.

To fulfill that role in our conversation with our customers, we can be emphatic with our words.  For example, it’s more emphatic to say “I will do ABC…” than to say “I think we can do ABC…”   It’s better to say “This will definitely help” than to say “This should help.”

It’s better to give a shorter answer than a longer answer.  It’s better to say “Yes,” then go into the description.  That immediately answers the question, emphatically.  That’s preferable to saying “There are a lot of different factors that come into play and for this particular situation…”  Again, we’re trying to create certainty and clarity.  It’s easier to be clear in a 3-word answer than in a 33-word response where the answer is somewhat hidden in the statement.

To be emphatic, think about more eye contact, more nods.  You’re reaffirming what you’re saying while you’re saying it.  Have body language that is complementary.  Use good posture, have more concise arm and hand movements just like your wording is more concise.

You can be positive while being emphatic to build confidence, convey clarity, and offer certainty to overcome anxiety.

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

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

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 with us.  We are constantly improving our services by being good listeners.  You can contact Jim Smith, CEO of Acme Paper Products directly to voice the good, bad and ugly.

The Really Good…

I read this article a couple months ago:  3 Customers Showed Up at a Starbucks as It Was Closing. The Barista’s Response Was Completely Unexpected. The customer showed up 3 minutes late after closing, but the employee still took and filled the order.  At the drive-through window, after the customer apologized for ordering after hours, the employee said: “No problem. We love making your favorite drink, and we’re always happy to make it!”

The Ugly…

Robert needed to contact a DMV fraud department.  The website said they are open Wednesday/Thursday 9-10am.  He waited from Friday to Wednesday to call them.  He called Wednesday, and the phone line said they are open Monday/Tuesday/Thursday 8-10 am.  So, he waited another day and called during open hours.  The phone tree said, “We won’t respond to messages left on this line,” and then it told him to leave a message.

Look at these three stories, and find your own lessons learned for yourself or for your organization. See what good you can pull from each, and try to avoid the ugly from story #3.

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Ask: What is your goal? – 6/14/22

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

Through these Tips, we’ve shared our technique about how to meet the customer’s need right the first time.  It’s a conversation – a give and take with the customer where you hone in on what their true need or concern is, seeking more clarity to more quickly get to the right solution.

But sometimes we start by wanting to offer our solution, thinking that’ll move the conversation along.  Sometimes we’ve heard some customer statements so many times in the past that we make assumptions that this customer’s situation is the same.  Sometimes we just ask close-ended questions, and we miss certain key details because we don’t ask the question in a way that uncovers those little nuances.

In other words, we are human, and sometimes we don’t handle the conversation as effectively as we should.  We have the best intentions, but the conversation doesn’t have the best outcomes.

So, when you’re thinking about uncovering the customer’s need, try to start more broadly, asking key questions before you narrow down to the specifics of the situation.

What’s important to you?  What is your goal?  What are those issues or concerns that you need resolved the most?  What are those one or two priorities for the future?  How are you hoping things will be different 6 months from now than they are today?

By asking these broader questions, it not only gives us some information, but it also helps us to frame our follow-up questions.  Because we understand what is top-of-mind for them, we can tailor our questions to get more details so that we can help them achieve their goals.

In addition, if we understand their goals, we can continually relate our solution back to how it will help them achieve their goals.  In other words, it’s easier to get them to buy-in to our solution because we’ve tailored it to address their priorities

To meet the needs right the first time, use broad-based questions to give them an opportunity to share, then align what you suggest to what they said.

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