facilitate | 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

How to Fix Other People’s Problems – 1/31/23

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

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 employees at the clinic, but Katie didn’t throw the others “under the bus.”

The office coordinator (who has since left the practice) had previously told my friend that the coordinator had certain paperwork, but the papers had not been filed correctly.  However, Katie still apologized on behalf of the office for the coordinator’s misstatement.

Another practice was supposed to forward information to this office, but they sent it to the wrong facility.  Katie offered to call that other practice to get them to resend it.

Katie tried to call my friend, but my friend had changed their phone number and forgot to tell the office, so the calls did not go through.  Katie did not complain or huff and puff in frustration; instead, she offered to update the contact information so she could follow up with my friend.

It wasn’t Katie’s fault, and it’s probably not your fault in most cases when you find yourself in these situations.  Sometimes it’s the co-worker that drops the ball.  Maybe it’s another organization that didn’t do something correctly.  Perhaps the customer makes a mistake.

Katie showed that even though it wasn’t her fault, she was willing to rectify the problem.  She was willing to apologize on behalf of others.  She was willing to be proactive, and she was willing to do it without a negative tone or a negative word.

Channel your inner Katie the next time you find yourself having to fix problems caused by others.

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What to do When You’re in the Middle – 1/24/23

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

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 the moderator, the mediator, the facilitator.

CSS does a tremendous amount of facilitation work, and it’s not just facilitating disagreements between customers and employees.  Usually it’s facilitation of groups where you have various stakeholders meeting, and they all have their own particular interest or position.

The key phrase we use when facilitating conversations like this is Healthy, Productive, and Effective.  You want Healthy conversation, where the discussion is about the issue or the goal, not the individuals involved.  Make sure people don’t make it personal or take it personal.

Productive means you try to stay on task.  Everybody understands up front what the goal is and how much time we have to discuss it, and those things that are not pertinent are identified and put on a “parking lot” for future reference.

Effective means starting with the end in mind and keeping a focus on that end.  The end is the goal.  It’s not the process to get to the goal.  People can get stuck in their specific solution or the process to get to that solution, but you just want them to think about the goal.  The more you can get them to focus on a common goal, the better chance you have of getting them there.  The more they fixate on their solution or their position or how they want to get there, the more difficult it’s going to be for you to be effective and for participants to get to their goal.

The next time you find yourself in the middle of an argument or a meeting between Bob and Sarah, identify a common goal up front.  Try not to get people focused on their position.  Make the conversation about the goal and not about the personalities involved.  Identify the time constraints, and professionally move the tangents to the parking lot.

Facilitate effectively when you find yourself in the middle.

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