excellence | 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

Who are Your Best Customers? – 6/29/21

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

A major medical supply company called Medline is in the process of being acquired.  It is an organization that has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly over the last decade.  It is currently a family-owned business, and the member of that family that serves as President of the organization is named Andy Mills.

Several years ago, Mr. Mills was part of a conversation with other healthcare executives, and each person was asked to describe how they treat their best customers.  Mr. Mills said that Medline doesn’t have any “best” customers.  According to a recent article, he stated that “Once you say one customer is more important, you’re giving your team permission to not give their best effort to everybody.  We want everybody to get our best effort. I really believe that, and from day one we emphasize how what they’re working on matters to our customers and end users.”

Now Mr. Mills was not saying that all customers are the same, or all have the same concerns or priorities, or that all customers bring in the same revenue to the business.  He said that they don’t identify any particular customers as better than the others. This may seem like a little bit of a nuanced response, but it’s extremely important.

Every customer we have, no matter the issue or the amount of sales they account for in our business, every customer is important; every customer should be valued; no customer should be viewed as being better than others.

I remember a story of a general – decades ago – in the Army who allowed one of the servicemen to make a previously unscheduled visit home. One of the general’s key staff came into his office and professionally suggested to the general that he should not have treated that one serviceman special. The general replied: “I try to treat everyone special.”

Regardless of the financial value of the person standing in front of us, every one of them has value.  None are better or worse than the previous customer.  We can’t view customers as being better or worse than others.  We need to view them all equally, and if that means that they are ALL the best, that we need to treat them ALL special, then so be it.

Don’t turn on the light switch of excellence for only certain customers.  Provide consistently great customer service.

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Be Proactive like a Pro – 3/9/21

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We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them.

But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  We think we give great customer service because we answer questions…when asked.  Or we resolve issues…when the customer complains.  Or we address a need…when the customer presents the need.

That’s not truly great customer service; that’s basic, fair-to-good customer service.

To be great, be proactive.  But how?

Here are some questions to ask yourself (or the customer) to ensure you’re being proactive:

  • Ask the customer “How was your experience?”  Then act on the information provided by sharing key takeaways with others in your organization or by addressing the customer’s experience.
  • Ask yourself “What is their next step in the process?”  Then make sure they understand that next step.
  • Ask yourself “What else do they need to accomplish their goal?”  Then share your knowledge with them.
  • Ask the customer “What are you hoping to accomplish?” or “What’s your goal?”  Then chart a plan to get them there.
  • If you cannot meet their need as requested, ask yourself “What’s an alternative solution?”  Then offer the other option.

 
To be proactive with a customer, you don’t have to be the best in the world at empathizing with other people or reading their minds.  Sometimes you just have to ask the customer (or ask yourself) the right question, and then take action based on the response.

To be great at customer service, be proactive – Ask and Act.

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Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK – 1/26/21

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Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.”

But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Customer Service Standards. Those Standards are typically the bare minimum expectation of every employee in every interaction.  If we are adhering to those Standards, we’re being consistent in the way of the organization, but we’re not necessarily being Excellent.

On the other side of the spectrum, Excellence is not perfection.  Perfection is something that is rarely if ever attained, and even then, perfection is usually defined through a result rather than through a perfect match of attitudes and actions throughout the entire process of getting to that result.

So, Excellence is not a bare minimum expectation, and Excellence is not perfection.  However, it is something as consistent as Standards but that continuously strives and reaches for what would be achieved in perfection.

Excellence is really reflected in Exceling through the process.

Oftentimes we don’t have control over the outcome because so many other factors are involved, but we have lots of control over how well we Excel going through the process.  We Excel when we are making decisions in the process for the right reasons with the right goals in mind.  We Excel when we take the action we need to take to reach the goal.  We Excel when we do things within the timeframe we need to do them to have the desired outcome.  We Excel when we bring an attitude that has the capabilities of drawing ourselves and others toward that goal.

Excellence does require a goal – something you’re trying to attain or achieve, something you’re trying to live into every day, something you’re trying to become.  However, when you think about how to achieve Excellence, don’t focus so much on the final achievement of some lofty goal.  When you think about Excellence, consider what you need to do in the process to give yourself and those around you the best chance to achieve that goal.

To Excel, first determine your goal; then identify what you can do to ensure that you have the decisions, actions, timeliness, and attitudes that give you the best chance of achieving that goal.

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