employee | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


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 Read more

Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up - 1/30/24


Nothing bad at all might happen.  Every day in the office could seem like every other day.  Sights and sounds and smells might continue to be the same.  But we have a lot of construction going on around our offices, and the building manager knows the type of work Read more

Be Better than AI Customer Service - 1/23/24


There was a recent CBS Sunday Morning Show story called: How artificial intelligence is revamping customer call centers. The journalist described how artificial intelligence is being used in customer service, and he noted the millions of pieces of information that can be processed in a matter of seconds. There are clear Read more

Recognize the Situation, and Pivot - 1/16/24


The customer has a complaint, or they may have an important question about an order or their account.  You may be talking to them in an emergency room, in the lobby of the government building, on the phone, or in a video conversation.  And in many of these Moments Read more

Sharpen Your Service Delivery - 1/9/24


You work so hard at being responsive and providing high quality information.  You work hard at fixing problems.  But is your delivery…dull? I’m not saying that it has to be exciting, but let’s think of the word “exciting.”  It means that something’s interesting, has energy, is positive.  Just by its Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower - 1/2/24


I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility. Immediately, one of the hands in the Read more

Holiday Poem 2023 - 12/26/23


The days are getting longer, The skies are getting brighter. Festivities behind us, And festivities before us.   There’s ups and downs and change coming, And we can’t predict when or where. There’s challenges and joys and opportunities around, Of which you may or may not be aware.   But one thing we know as we look at each Read more

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Refocus - 12/19/23


It’s that time of year.  We’re going 100 miles an hour, and holiday time is upon us.  We not only have all the work to do, but we somehow have less time to do it.  We somehow have other things that are of competing interest, and even though those Read more

Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection – 9/27/22

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

Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like it’s someone they’ve known for years.

But for most of us, it’s not a talent or quality we were born with; it’s something that we need to work on, and in customer service there’s a lot of benefits to being able to establish rapport and begin to develop a relationship.

It could be a new customer that you’re wanting to provide a great experience to and lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship.  Maybe it’s an existing customer that’s coming in a little irate, griping a little bit, who’s a little bit upset. One way to take away some of the emotion and disarm them is to find some common ground so it doesn’t seem so adversarial.

There are ways to communicate that foster these connections, and we’re going to address some topics you can discuss in a 2-Part series.  For this week, Part 1 of our focus on the topics that create these connections is About Them and You:

About Them and You

Noted below are 3 categories of connection points that are more about the people involved – you and the customer.

Background – Where were they born or grew up?  Where have they lived in the past or currently reside?  What type of work have they done or do they do today, and in what industries?  What types of organizations or initiatives have they been a part of over the years?

Experiences – What are their hobbies?  What do they like to do to relax or stay active?  Where have they vacationed, what are their interests, and what are their leisure activities?

Friends/Relatives – Are they a parent?  Do they have siblings or friends with whom they do things?  Do they live near family, or are they traveling to visit?  Are they a pet lover?

If you uncover some of these points, you may find some things that you can relate to about the other person, and they can relate to you a little bit better, as well.  By either asking the questions directly when appropriate or just doing an exceptionally good job at listening to the details of what they share, you can establish that rapport.

Find some Personal Connection Points.

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Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t – 9/13/22

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I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, comments were often worded like this:

“The customers seemed to have a good time at the event, but they were griping and complaining when they arrived because of the parking issues.”

“They enjoyed the event, but a lot of fans had difficulty with mobile ticketing and couldn’t see the screens because of the bright sun.”

“They enjoyed the entertainment, but many complained about the heat and lack of shade.”

“Overall, customers had a good time, but the guests complained that the food ran out too soon.”

So overall, the entertainment was great, but the employees were fielding lots of complaints and dealing with lots of issues relating to processes, technology, concessions, or other issues.

Not only were the employees having to deal with difficult processes and address complaints, but the frustrations of these guests were being transferred to the employees.  The employees had more work to do because of these issues, and they themselves became frustrated and upset just like the guests.

As an employee, what can you do when you’re getting hammered by process and experiential complaints even though you might be doing a great job?

First, be clear to yourself that the complaint about these items is not a complaint about you.  Understand that truth, and by taking things less personally, it’s easier to control your emotions.

Second, focus on listening, and provide a little empathy.  Don’t feel like you have to counter every complaint with a comeback.  If you focus on listening and understanding, it takes away the burden of your having to respond to every criticism or always saying the right thing.  In these situations, sometimes the less you can say, the better it is for all parties.

Finally, help the company to improve.  Very few organizations are good at tapping into the voice of the employee to seek the voice of the customer like our client has done through this research.  If you’re not asked to share customer feedback, proactively find ways to share those common themes – those common positives and concerns that you’re hearing from customers – with leaders on your work team.

Be kind to yourself even when the customer isn’t being so kind.

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Make Complaints Constructive – 7/18/17

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Sandy aspires to be an excellent manager. She’s new to a leadership role and new to the organization. She’s come into her department with a ton of passion and energy. And now she’s in the middle of her “listening tour” – talking to different groups of employees, understanding the department’s history, its culture, and its approach to customer service.

In the middle of her third meeting, all her passion and energy started to get sapped – minute by minute, complaint by complaint. She was listening to staff, but it had turned into a gripe session. Literally nothing she was hearing was positive. Issue after issue was voiced. Sandy thought about asking – “What is something/ANYTHING positive going on in the department?”, but she didn’t want to have her staff feel like they couldn’t voice complaints to her or that she only wanted to hear positives.

So she asked a different question: What are some solutions to the issues we’re discussing?

Crickets. Nobody said a word, for 5 seconds, then 15, then 30.

Sandy gave into the silence and said: For example, what can be done differently, more consistently, or better relating to communications, planning, decision-making, relationship-building – just the general work environment?

And finally, people started offering ideas – not a ton of ideas, but it changed the dynamic of the conversation. The tone became less negative, and staff offered some great solutions to consider.

There are many lessons to learn from this, but let’s focus on two.

First, managers, listen to your staff. Communication is a 2-way street, and that bi-directional dialogue is great for understanding culture, morale, and even customer viewpoints from those closest to the customers – front-line staff.

Second, growth only comes through change and improvement, so complaints without solutions aren’t productive – they don’t lead to improvement and growth. Staff should support leaders with ideas to complement the complaints. Likewise, when dealing with complaining customers, sometimes asking the customer “What could we do to make this right?” or “What solution would help in this situation?” could make our lives as service providers easier – with customers offering solutions for us to consider instead of employees having to conjure up all the creative ideas themselves.

Do you have a complaint? Are you dealing with a complaining customer or employee? Consider tapping into the ideas of those complaining to identify potential solutions.

Make Complaints Constructive.

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