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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

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

When You Know More Than They Do - 7/19/22


It was 95 degrees outside.  That’s not too bad when you’re inside and enjoying the air conditioning; but when Rachel’s A/C went out, in came Rachel’s worry.  Luckily, she knew the company to call, and a technician from Acme HVAC (fake name, real company) came out the next morning. Rachel Read more

Three Lost Customers in One – 10/20/15 TOW

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


This is a true tale of 3 lost customers – me, myself, and I.

I sat in a drive-thru at the shiny new fast food restaurant – the first time I had ever been there – and the line never moved. It was 2, 4, 8 minutes of waiting. I told myself that if it got to 10, I’d leave; I left. That was 2 years ago, and I’ve driven by it hundreds of times but have never been back.

The local cleaners changed owners, and I kept going – it was highly convenient – but the new owners don’t smile, don’t say hello, don’t say thank you. Their greeting is “Phone Number,” so they can key it into their system. They don’t say another word until you tell them the number of pieces and what you want done with them. When you’re at the register, and they’re waiting on the credit card machine, they don’t say a word – they look around with a stone face. I’m leaving that business, too.

The local cable/internet company came to upgrade my neighbor’s lines, and they cut the lines to my home. When they installed cable, they literally installed the shortest line possible, so there was no way to move the television more than 3 inches and still be hooked to cable. When calling their customer service line to setup appointments, the wait was long and the wait on the technician to come out to the house was longer. I switched internet providers and am waiting on a new TV provider to enter my region so that can be switched as well.

Sorry to be venting, but I’m not just sharing these issues just to vent (although it does feel good!) – I’m sharing these stories to illustrate the types of things that can drive customers away. The company may never realize it either if they don’t ask customers about their experience, don’t try to see the experience through the customer’s eyes, and don’t contact lost customers to ask about exit reasons.

They lose business – revenues drop – and it’s all about the customer experience.

Customer service matters. Time, engagement, caring, responsiveness – they all matter to the bottom line, the P&L, customer churn – whatever term we want to use.

And since customer service matters, ensure you’re tapping into customers so you know truly what they are feeling, why they’re leaving, and why revenues are going up and down.

Learn the lessons of these “three” lost customers.

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Know What You Need to Know for BRE Success

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

When Economic Development Organizations create their Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Programs, they often have key goals such as:

  • Having a better understanding of business needs and expectations
  • Better matching community and government resources with specific needs of a given business
  • Improving relationships between the local government and its constituent businesses
  • Identifying companies at-risk of relocating or at-risk of job loss
  • Increasing local business retention and job growth.

These are all very good, very laudable goals. But to achieve goals such as these requires that the BRE professionals have resources, information, and intelligence on their local businesses.

If you want to understand needs, bring resources to bear for a local business, improve a relationship, know who’s at-risk of job loss, and grow the local economy, you need key pieces of information. Here’s a checklist for you to use to ensure you have what you need:

  • BRE Surveys – Understand retention drivers, current business outlook, likelihood to be recruited, perception of your local business environment, and many more characteristics.
  • Interviews from Site Visits – Learn about the local industry’s products/services, personnel needs/issues and recent changes, lease details, local customers and suppliers.
  • Business News ResearchGain information on leadership changes, facility closures/expansions, acquisitions, earnings, corporate strategies.
  • BRE Alerts – Get same day/next day updates on information that addresses imminent impact on a local business.
  • Exit Interviews – Learn the reasons why businesses left, so you can apply lessons learned to those that stayed.
  • Resource Updates – Have ongoing dialogue with local resources that help address business needs/issues so that you’re abreast of changes to programs, personnel, and information.

What else do you need? What do you need to know to best serve your local industries?

Get what you need so you can give what your locals businesses need.

Learn more about keeping up-to-date on your local businesses at http://brebuzz.com/


Do Some Root Cause Analysis on Customer Retention Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, World of Customer Service Please leave a comment

Here are comments from a Reuters article on Leap Wireless’ earnings issues:

  • Churn — or customer defection rate — rose to 4.4 percent from 4.2 percent a year earlier
  • Customer retention programs did not work out as well as expected and came at a higher-than-anticipated cost
  • Customer retention in the quarter was also hurt by reduced promotional activity.

Now, let’s do a little root cause analysis. To analyze these points, think “cause and effect.”

The first bullet is an effect – customer churn is up. But what was the cause? The second bullet says that customer retention programs didn’t work. So that was the cause? No, that wasn’t the root cause because the 3rd bullet says that customer retention was hurt by reduced promotional activity.

So reduced promotional activity was the root cause, correct? No, because promotional activity is needed due to something else missing.

So what’s the real root cause? They obviously have more work to do to determine the root cause(s); it’s unclear if they’ve surveyed exited clients. I’m uncertain if they’ve researched demographics and other characteristics of the customers, their usage patterns, their plans to determine key drivers of churn. It’s not clear if they survey clients to identify retention drivers and act on that intelligence.

What is clear is that the company is losing money and losing customers. As with any company in this situation, they need to systematically identify the root cause instead of jumping from symptom (i.e., lower profitability or retention) to solutions (increased promotions).

Do some root cause analysis on customer retention issues.

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