custserv | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

A Story of Willie and Aubrey - 2/8/22


The gift shop was a great experience!  Aubrey had bought items online from the shop for years, but she had never stepped foot in the store itself.  However, when travel plans took her on a trip to new surroundings, she took time out of her day to go to Read more

It Matters Who You Know - 2/1/22


The season ticket account holder has an issue, but he’s not too concerned about it:  I’m going to call my guy, and he’ll take care of it. The patient is confused about their bill.  The family member says: I know someone who can help. The husband discovers a problem in the Read more

Put an End to 1-Star Ratings - 1/25/22


If you ever had service performed on your car, I would not doubt it if you received the immediate e-mail asking for that 5-star rating. They want the big ratings because that makes them look good, and to get the big average rating you have to avoid the 1-Star Read more

Signs of Service Recovery Situations - 1/18/22


As we continue the slow trend of more and more customer interactions becoming in-person again, we need to remember those signs that we’re about to enter one of THOSE conversations.  It can typically take only 5-10 seconds to realize this is going to be a high-risk situation with the Read more

In Survey Development, Think in Reverse - 1/11/22


We often meet with clients interested in conducting a survey, and when we discuss the project, many clients come with questions in-hand.  They are interested, curious, even excited sometimes about the possibility of tapping into the voice of the customer! And when we review their questions and start to see Read more

Foster Positive Feelings - 1/4/22


I bet a lot of you all are like me - when you’re asked to share your feelings, it’s not always something that feels comfortable.  It obviously depends on the situation and who’s asking you to share your feelings.  So, many of us might hesitate in sharing our feelings. However, Read more

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


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 Read more

2021 Holiday Poem - 12/21/21


Breathe and rest and relax and rejuvenate. Close the eyes, and fill the lungs. Take a break, and be with friends. This is a time to begin. Renaissance is called a rebirth. Birth can bring new life. Life gives opportunity for living. Living gives opportunity for joy. We have so many outside factors, So many things that tug Read more

“I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Mean “I’m Guilty” - 12/14/21


Individuals and organizations mess up; that’s part of life… They told me that they were going to be at my home at a certain time; they were REALLY late.  The customer service representative said they would get a message to a co-worker, and the co-worker would call me back; I Read more

Apply Selfless Service - 12/7/21


Andrea had worked in human resources for years, and the company decided that it wanted to hire employees who were more customer service-oriented, regardless of the position.  After making that decision, they added some creative questions to the interview process. One of the most interesting questions that Andrea had to Read more

In Government, Do You Want Good Customer Service or Low Costs?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 3-19-14Quality, Price, Service – Select any 2.

This is the sign that supposedly hangs (or hung) in dry cleaners across the country. The point is, you can’t have all 3, so figure out – essentially – what you DON’T want.

In the world of customer service, organizations often have a similar question – Do we want good customer service or low costs?

This is based on the assumption that you can’t have great customer service without increasing costs. The recent article Water operations review in GA county seeks cost savings, customer service improvements notes how one Georgia county is trying to do both.

The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has hired a consulting firm to evaluate organizational efficiencies, but in doing so also improve customer service. There isn’t a great deal of detail in the article, but you can glean some of the strategy by what’s included in the article: “The partnership is also expected to improve customer service and reduce wait times for customers. A thorough review of the utility’s administration, planning, operations, maintenance and capital programs, customer service, and billing and collections will also occur.”

To improve customer service, one key is to view customer service as the composition of the employee attitudes and the service processes. More standardized, high-quality processes often are more efficient and result in less rework, fewer complaints to address, and higher productivity. This equates to lower cost.

The review of multiple departments suggests that they’re looking from a structure and process perspective to find inefficiencies in internal processes, internal communications, and communications about customer needs/issues. Streamlining internal processes often results in improved efficiency, and designing processes and customer communications to be better coordinated usually improves the customer experience.

It is definitely possible to reduce costs and improve customer service at the same time. The key is to look at processes and communications: Where is the poor quality? There’s a cost to poor quality. Where are the complaints? There’s a cost to address those. Where is there a lack of standardization? There’s financial benefit to moving to best practice. Where are the redundancies? There’s savings from eliminating waste.

Learn a little from these water works – focus on process and communications to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

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Create a Patient-Centered Culture

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

Zappos delivers great customer service, but its leader seems to talk mostly about his corporate culture. Disney is always brought up in seminars we provide for their great customer experience, but so much of what makes it a great experience is the consistently high performance of its “cast members.”

Culture and customer service are intertwined in great companies, and that’s why it’s no surprise that the article NY nurse executives focus on positivity addresses how to drive higher patient satisfaction by creating a patient-centered culture. According to the article, successful healthcare organizations possess a “strong unit and organizational leadership that promote a service culture tied to operations and finance; effective partnerships with patients and families; an engaged and satisfied workforce; and a strong performance improvement focus.”

Note what’s being discussed here…leadership that’s strong…leadership that promotes service…an organization that realizes patient/customer satisfaction is intertwined with operations (processes) and finance (business outcomes). They address partnering with customers, having motivated staff, and continually improving.

I agree with all these points; most cohesive cultures are created and fostered by leaders who have a well-articulated vision, who practice what’s preached, who understand the process impact on patient satisfaction and the patient satisfaction impact on financials.

But some of the “hows” are missing from the article. How do you get an engaged workforce? How do you continually improve? Leadership is the start, but that focus on patient satisfaction has to begin with your hiring process and criteria for staff, what you reward them for doing, and how you hold them accountable. A patient-centered culture requires training and an internal communication plan that is proactively conveying the messages to staff that you want repeated to patients. Patient-centered cultures require smooth information flow from patients and families to staff and leadership, so data-driven improvements can be made real-time when needed and through root-cause analysis when recurring issues occur.

To create a patient-centered culture, get leadership on board, and get the ball rolling through hiring, motivation, accountability, training, communications, process design, and continuous improvement.

Create a great culture with your people to create a great experience for your customer.

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Give Customer Service Some Definition

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

In the article New city administration sets priorities at day-long planning session, El Paso city officials met to identify 2014 goals. According to the article, “Customer service emerged as a key focus, for the new administration, during the planning session. The city’s mission statement says that it is ‘dedicated to outstanding customer service for a better El Paso.’ City Representative Larry Romero added that part of the city’s duty in providing high customer service is first identifying the priorities and levels of service needed. Deputy city manager Jane Shang said the city needs to revaluate and change processes to streamline city government and, ‘deliver services quicker and better.’

Based on those points, here are some nuggets for any business to consider:

  • A Mission Defines Your Daily Purpose. Use the Mission to guide your planning efforts. Are you aligning your plans to your Foundation Statements (Mission, Vision, Values)?
  • Define “Customer Service” for Your Organization. Customer service is a general term, so is it defined as the employee attitudes, systems, processes, facilities, or something else?
  • Define Where You Want to be GREAT! Don’t strive for perfection in everything – there have to be priorities set. Are you going to delight the customers with your attitudes, systems, processes, AND facilities? If so, do you have an unlimited budget?
  • Define Your Customer Service Standards. Where you don’t have an unlimited budget, define bare minimum expectations. If we’re not going to have facilities that resemble the Ritz-Carlton, what is at least a minimum expectation?

Whether you work for a municipality or not, to create a focus for your customer service initiatives, give customer service some definition.

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