finance | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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


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 Read more

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


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 Read more

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? - 1/17/23


Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most Read more

Decide Who’s Driving the Bus - 1/10/23


I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus? I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a Read more

Redefine “Access” to Treat Customers Special - 11/29/22


One of our clients puts on major events throughout the country.  When we conduct post-event surveys, many of the attendees rave about the access they had to certain entertainers, locations in the venue, parking lots, or even information.  Others decry the fact that they lacked that access. This does pose Read more

Investigate for FACTS – 7/12/22

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

Sometimes the issues that we deal with don’t have an immediate resolution.  There’s unknown information and conflicting stories.  Many individuals are involved, or possibly whoever is involved is not available.  You have to investigate.

For situations where you have to be clear on what occurred, make sure you’re gathering all the pertinent information.  Here’s a quick acronym to help guide your research into the issue – Get the FACTS:

  • Financial Information – The emotions from the customers can often relate to their bottom line; what is coming out of their pocket or already has been taken out? Likewise, the company often uses financial criteria when deciding how to deal with situations.  Make sure you clearly understand what’s going on from a financial angle in the situation.
  • Actions Taken or Untaken – Determine what has been done, or potentially what should have been done but didn’t occur. Knowing what work has been accomplished or what forms were completed helps to understand the situation better.
  • Content of Communications – Understand what the customer communicated to the company, and likewise what employees in the company communicated back. This goes to completeness of information, clarity of communications – and it affects expectations from both parties.
  • Tone of Communications – When emotions are involved, it’s not just because it’s dealing with people’s pocketbooks or because of the particulars of the situation, it’s also because of HOW things are communicated. Try to uncover whether and how tone played a part in this situation.
  • Sequencing – Finally, if things don’t make sense when you’re digging for facts, it may be because there’s not clarity about what happened first, then second, then third. Knowing the timing of the process that has led you to this point will let you know where miscommunications or miscues occurred, where feelings were hurt, and where expectations were set and not met.

 
When you have to investigate an issue, first uncover the FACTS.

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Reach Out to Customers the Right Way – 3/31/20

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Depending on what industry that you work in, business is either booming, or it’s greatly slowed down.  I’m not sure if there’s much of a middle ground these days – where industries are working as normal.

If you’re in one of the industries where business has slowed, there may be an opportunity for you, and a need to address.  When customers are not coming to us as often – to take out a loan for a financial institution, to order products, to buy tickets to a sporting event, to submit plans for new construction – those are times where we lose touch points with our customers. Those are times when we lose contact. Those are times where there are gaps in the communication which can lead to relationships going stale.

Therefore, these are times when we need to ramp up our proactive communications with customers.

Three Types of Proactive Touches – Pick the Right Ones

Too often, businesses view proactive touch points with customers only as opportunities to market and sell. However, you may recall that we recommend three different types of touch points with customers.  One obviously is a proactive communication where you’re marketing and selling, but the first touch point is one where you are seeking information from your customers, asking questions, conducting short surveys, or inquiring about the customer.  The second is actually a proactive push of information, but it is not sales and marketing-oriented. Instead, you are sharing information of value. You’re trying to help the customer.  You are offering educational information to help them personally or professionally.

So, two of the three proactive touches have nothing to do with marketing and sales, and these softer touches are the ones to ramp up at times like these.

When the number of times that your customer reaches out to you goes down, ramp up the number of proactive touches to your customers.  But with empathy, remember that these touches are focused on learning about them and how they’re doing; these touches are about providing information valuable to them – to help them.

Keep your proactive communications with your customers going.

Don’t let relationships go stale.

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Bank on Higher Level Service – 9/25/18

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In the recent Bloomberg article “Some banks are giving tellers more to do and better pay,” a Goldman Sachs survey is highlighted. It notes how more and more people are going to digital means to find answers to questions through self-service, and then they go to tellers or a branch if they can’t find the answer. Essentially, the article talks about how so many of the more common questions and inquiries are addressed without ever going to a human being.

So, what does this mean for the frontline staff?

Employees Deal with More Complexity
It means that when staff get questions, those questions are typically more complex. Therefore, they need to be well-versed in higher-level issues and challenges and with software applications that might not have anything to do with their own business. Maybe it’s a Venmo request, but they’re calling a bank that has nothing directly to do with Venmo. Maybe it’s a PayPal question, but their bank has no formal relationship with PayPal.

Customers Already Invested Time
Another consideration is that, if the customer didn’t find the answer to their question via the self-service methods, then they’ve already gone through a process and spent time on an issue before they ever get to a person. Therefore, they have already invested time and energy, and their patience may be waning. There may be more of a sense of urgency in their request.

Customers are Frustrated with the Lack of Results
Third, since they attempted to do this on their own and they could not, they might have a greater likelihood of being frustrated when the conversation starts. They’ve already made the attempt and not found the answer. So these frontline employees are being asked higher-level questions about other sources of information or other services that might not relate directly to their company. They are dealing with customers who have already invested time and energy, dealing with customers who may be frustrated with the lack of results from that expenditure of time and energy.

When you’re on the phone with the caller today as opposed to even 10 years ago, make sure you’re aware of those other features and functions and sources of information that your customer may go to first. Make sure you know the higher-level answers and have the patience to deal with folks who might have a sense of urgency because they’ve already spent time looking elsewhere. And make sure you understand that people might be upset with something that has nothing to do with you – maybe it’s a lack of an answer from another source – but now they’re not only coming to you with a higher-level need, they’re coming to you with a little bit of frustration as well.

In this digital world, have a sense for what the customer has gone through as a part of even getting you on the phone, because oftentimes you’re not the first source; yet, you’re dealing with a customer and the emotional baggage that their encounter with that first source left behind.

Bank on Higher Level Service.

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