custserv | 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

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.

Did you like this post? Here are other Government-related posts:


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