government | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

Show Progress to the Customer – 2/21/23

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

When I enter the Chick-fil-A drive-thru lines, there are typically 10-15 cars ahead of me.  The cars move slowly but surely.  Employees take your order.  Others confirm your order.  Others provide the food.  In a study conducted a couple years ago, Chick-fil-A was noted as having the longest drive-thru times.  But I don’t mind the wait.  It just does not seem that long.

Recently I went to a different fast food restaurant.  When I arrived at the drive-thru, there were only 4 cars ahead of me.  After 5 minutes, one car had moved.  I did not see hardly any progress.  I exited the line and left.

There are times when I’ll call a company, and they’ll estimate my hold time – let’s say it’s 4 minutes expected until someone will answer my call.  A minute later the message says that the estimated hold time is 3 minutes or 2 minutes.  I stay on the line.  But with most organizations, when we are put on hold, there’s either no noise, or there’s music, or there’s a repetitive message.  There is no clear sign of progress or an estimate of when the phone will be answered.

Yes, with so much business being done on phones or via computers, people expect the instant answer.  They expect the instant gratification.  But for a lot of us, we have the expectation, not of immediacy, but at least of progress.  At least seeing the next step.  At least being provided an estimate of when that next step will occur.  Not only progressing to the next step but being told of or shown that progress.

Sometimes it’s not the wait or the perceived inactivity that is bothersome.  The problem is the perceived lack of progress.

Maybe companies are working like crazy to help you, to keep the process moving.  But for customers to appreciate it, they need to see it.  They need to be told it.  They need to understand it.

We can’t assume that – because we’re running 100 miles an hour – that the customer feels like we’re working on their behalf; we can’t assume they feel like there is progress.

When the process isn’t done, show progress to the customer.

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Provide the Promise of Patience and Kindness – 2/14/23

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

Patience and kindness go a long way in life, and they go a really long way in customer service, as well.  These are two of the harder qualities to exemplify in customer service, particularly when you are spinning multiple plates, have a backlog of work or calls or contacts or customers, and are dealing with people that are not the most patient with you, or not the most kind with you.

Patience is waiting calmly as the senior citizen writes out a check instead of tapping their phone to make a credit card payment.  Patience is letting the other person finish instead of interrupting to get on to the next point.  Patience is slowing your movements and focusing on the person standing in front of you.  Patience is asking what else you can do to help the other person before you hang up the call.  Patience is not expecting an immediate response, but rather giving the person a reasonable requested due date.

Kindness has a definite component of simply being nice to the other individual.  Being respectful with your terminology, opening doors for others to walk through, and using a tone that’s more conciliatory than confrontational.

But kindness is also conveying you truly care about the other person.  That comes across with patience, but it also comes across with being inquisitive, providing empathy, offering to help, and doing something unexpected beyond the specific product or service – just to be helpful to the other person.  It could be doing something on their behalf (making the call, completing the form) when they are having difficulties doing it themselves.

If you want to do something distinct, somewhat unique, and beyond what your customer experiences in a typical interaction with other businesses, simply be patient and kind to the other person.  You’ll likely exceed 90%-95% of their experiences elsewhere.

Provide the promise of patience and kindness.

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When You Can’t Say “Yes to the Address” – 2/7/23

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

I was interviewing a frontline staff person for one of our local government clients recently as part of our CSS Training Development Process.  They described their customers and the difficult situations that they face, their tougher conversations with customers.

This individual supports local events, so there’s a lot of planning involved.  Unfortunately, this person oftentimes has to say No to the specific request.  His agency has to deal with staffing shortages.  They receive requests from local residents and organizations that result in fees that those groups are not used to paying.  They want the event held at a certain address, but the location is unavailable on that date.

When I asked him for keys to addressing these situations – where they repeatedly have to say No to the specific client request – this is what the individual shared:

  • Regarding fees, try to ease them in lightly. Note the different fee ranges for the different types of services, and let them know what they can do within their range even if it’s not everything they wanted to do.
  • If it’s a first-time customer, let them know that they can build toward their perfect event over time. Year 1 could be a streamlined and lower cost version, but they could build in Year 2, and by Year 3 have the event they want, the scale they want, the schedule they want.
  • Identify alternatives. When the exact location isn’t available on that date, share the alternative addresses, share the no cost options that are in different locations.

 
Get them focused on the end goal – what they’re trying to accomplish with their events – so that there’s some flexibility in the details of when and how and where that event could be held…and still accomplish the same goal.

When you can’t say “Yes to the Address,” find ways to say Yes to their goals.

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