focus | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Same Place, Different Experiences - 9/26/23


Meredith was getting discharged from the clinic, when the nurse came in, gave her a packet of information including the discharge instructions, explained the next steps, and asked if Meredith had any questions.  Freida, across the hall, was told that she could leave when ready.  However, Freida had to Read more

What Annoys the Customer? - 9/19/23


Domino’s Pizza had TV commercials years ago where they promoted how they trained their employees to “Avoid the Noid.”  The “Noid” was basically an annoying person or thing that would disrupt the delivery driver, possibly making the driver drop the pizza on the way to your door.  The goal Read more

Lift It Up - 9/12/23


I worked with a great client for several years who was in a leadership role in the education industry, and she was the executive champion for a culture-strengthening initiative.  We were the outside firm helping to develop the overall strategy and facilitate the teams addressing the various aspects of Read more

Addressing the Horror Story that Wasn’t - 9/5/23


You may have seen the commercials for one of those garden hoses that fits in your pocket.  When you put it on the valve outside your home and turn on the water, it expands to 50 feet.  When you’re done and turn off the water, it contracts and fits Read more

Be There ALWAYS for the Customer - 8/29/23


In healthcare, the patient experience mantras often include the phrase Always, such as: We have an always culture.  This gets at frequency of action.  Instead of service excellence being a most-of-the-time occurrence, some-of-the-time occurrence, an occasional or rare occurrence, the idea in an Always Culture is that the organization Read more

Respect, Regardless of Rank - 8/22/23


I was reading a management book written by a former naval officer.  He was given a leadership role over a ship that had been underperforming and had low morale.  One thing he did to turn around the performance, to improve morale, was instill in everyone onboard the principle that Read more

Move on to the Next One - 8/15/23


The ultimate game in professional American football is the Super Bowl.  In this past year’s Super Bowl, James Bradberry of the Philadelphia Eagles was called for a penalty with less than two minutes to go in the game.  The penalty gave the other team a first down; the other Read more

How to Rise to the Occasion - 8/8/23


In the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Mr. Magorium – played by Dustin Hoffman – tells his protégé that “Your life is an occasion.  Rise to it.” He’s conveying a big picture life lesson – don’t let fear and apprehension keep you from living. Rising to the occasion is also something Read more

Thanks for Reading - 8/1/23


My company, Customer Service Solutions, Inc., just celebrated our 25th Anniversary!  We love the work we do for our clients, and we definitely love our clients.  We’ve developed many friendships over the years, and we’ve tried to provide consistently high quality and personal support for whatever may be their Read more

Share the Why to Value the Customer - 7/25/23


We encourage our clients to explain “The Why behind the What” to the customer.  Usually we suggest that staff explain Why so that the customer understands the reason for a change or can buy-in to a particular solution. However, explaining the Why is also effective when you’re doing some very Read more

Harvey Wrote the Book on Focus…and Golf – 5/14/19

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In Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, the famous golf instructor provides many key tips about golf that just as well could apply to life in general. One such tip is the following: Once you address the golf ball, hitting it has got to be the most important thing in your life at that moment. Shut out all thoughts other than picking out a target and taking dead aim at it. This is a good way to calm a case of nerves.

I love this quote for so many reasons. First, the quote relates to life and customer service. When we’re interacting with that customer during that 1-on-1 moment of truth, we need to view that customer in that situation as the most important thing in our life at that moment. To convey we are engaged and we care, we need to truly believe that that other individual and their situation are important. Even if – in the grand scheme of things – it is not THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD to you, at that moment, you need to focus on it AS IF IT WAS the most important thing.

The next aspect of this phrase that I love is that you are shutting out all other thoughts. We might think we can serve a customer the best while we’re simultaneously looking at a computer or thinking about a project we have due later on, but the reality is that the brain works best and we communicate best with others when we are focused exclusively on that individual.

Finally, he sums up by saying that this is a good way to calm a case of nerves. One thing that people don’t realize is that there is a greater sense of calm if we are in-the-moment than there is if we’re thinking about tomorrow. You’re more likely to be stressed if you’re thinking about 12 other things you have to do or what might happen next or all the other stimulations that are in the environment.

If we only focus on the now, there is less to distract and less to disturb the calm.

The next time you’re on the phone or face-to-face with another individual, view that interaction as the most important thing at that moment. Treat them that way, and watch the communications flow better, the conversations end more quickly, and your emotions stay calmer.

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The 4 S’s of the Customer Experience – 10/13/15 TOW

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I mentioned in a previous TOW years ago about the 4 S’s of Expectation Management – Key guiding principles to effectively set and manage customer expectations – Simple, Specific, Supporting Documentation, and Summarizing.

But there is another set of 4 S’s – and these are all about the Customer Experience. We worked with a government client last year that had significant customer issues. The customers didn’t – in general – like having to deal with a regulatory and enforcement body, but they really didn’t like it when the regulations were surrounded by a poor customer experience.

So through research including a multitude of customer focus groups, we narrowed down the customers’ preferences for their experience into four guiding principles – The 4 S’s of the Customer Experience:

  • Staffing – Ensure that your staffing mirrors the Customer Volume – by time-of-day, day-of-week, season, etc. You could have the best people, processes, and systems in place, but if you don’t have the staffing levels to handle the volume, the experience will suffer.
  • Solving Issues – When issues and complaints arise, be collaborative across the company’s silos to resolve issues. Be as timely as possible, managing customer expectations when needed. Ensure staff OWN the issue – don’t push the responsibility of researching or fixing issues to the customer, particularly when the problems were caused between staff or departments.
  • Statusing – This one may not have been top-of-mind, but it’s VERY important when service and issue resolution are not immediate. When those fixes take time, be transparent with the information and the issue-resolution process. The more customers understand and see what’s going on to rectify issues or address needs, the more appreciative and understanding they’ll be of the effort. Offer statuses of where their issue/need is in the process, ensuring that the current status is clear, specific, and easily-accessed by the customer. The better they can find and understand the status, the less likely they are to contact you for updates.
  • Simplifying (the Catch-all) – Whether it’s your terminology or systems, make it easy for the customer to do business with you. Avoid the confusion and complexity that lead to long discussions with staff and extra work for your business. When needed, have a single point of contact so they can get to the right person the first time – saving the customer and your company time. Finally, at every communication, be clear on next steps and timeframes.

 
To deliver a great experience, incorporate the 4 S’s.

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How to Create Focus and Direction – 10/22/13 TOW

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Prior to co-founding CSS, I was a management consultant for about ten years. At my previous consulting firm, they asked me to develop and deliver training for new employees on Consulting Skills and Professionalism. It was an honor to be asked and a fun course to teach.

In looking through some of the materials from that training recently, I came across a module that addressed keeping Focus and Direction, and the tips from that training should resonate for those in customer service as well.

Oftentimes as a consultant, especially if you’re inquisitive and creative, you can create a lot of ideas, want to make many improvements, and look to promote change for the better. Those attributes and actions can also be applied to many who have a customer service role or orientation. The problem lies in the fact that all that creativity and focus on continuous improvement can create TOO MUCH WORK!

What we promoted in the training years ago to create Focus and Direction were three key questions:

  • Who’s the customer?
  • What’s the need?
  • What’s the priority?

 
The concept was that your customers and their needs should set a focus; their priorities (or if certain customers or needs are bigger priorities) should help to sort out our priorities. The direction we should go should be greatly impacted by the direction our customers desire.

So the next time you have too many items on your “To Do” list for the day, look at those items in light of these three questions.

Create a Focus and Direction for yourself by doing those things that address key needs of key customers.