excellence | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Find a Connection Point – Part 2: Situational Connection - 10/4/22


Last week we highlighted key topics to consider when you want to find Personal Connection Points with the customer.  Today, we’ll cover some key questions to ask to uncover information about today’s situation that you can use to establish a rapport with the customer.  This is Part 2 - Read more

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


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 Read more

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

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


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, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But 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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