government | 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

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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