improvement | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 4

“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

Use I.E. to Relieve Your Burdens – 5/10/16 TOW

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


Some of the consulting we perform with clients focuses on ways to be more efficient and to improve quality. Customer service isn’t just about employee attitudes and skills; often customer service is just as much about the processes related to delivering services, responding to needs, and addressing issues.

This type of consulting is part quality improvement, part Kaizen, and part good old fashioned Industrial Engineering (I.E.). So let’s discuss how to apply some of the key principles to the work of an individual – You!

Here are 5 of the 7 Categories of Waste (taken from key lean manufacturing principles) for you to consider. Address these, and maybe your workload decreases, the workflow smooths, and your daily burdens are easier to bear:

  • Storage – Find old files (on your computer, in binders, or stuck in those manila folders in your desk), and identify older ones that no longer serve a purpose. Get rid of old files, and put a system in place to purge those periodically so you avoid a never-ending growth of documents.
  • Overproduction – In what situations do you produce too many copies of items that go unused? When do you copy more people on e-mails than necessary? When are you copied unnecessarily on e-mails or are sent internal documents that are not needed in hardcopy form? Identify answers to these questions, and look for opportunities to reduce the overproduction.
  • Transportation – When do you have to physically change locations – to copy, to meet, to acquire materials or distribute information? Become more productive by finding ways to spend less time simply transporting from Point A to Point B.
  • Waiting – When are you idle? Okay – maybe never. But when can you not go on to the next steps because you’re waiting on a co-worker, a customer, a process, or a system to do its thing? This wastes your time, and it also causes you to have even more projects or initiatives underway at once – that creates more plates for you to keep spinning at the same time. Identify the waits, and find ways to eliminate them.
  • Correction – When do you have to correct the work of others – or vise-versa? When you do have to fight customer fires caused by the wrong information, wrong product, or wrong response being delivered? These issues waste your time and often the time of your customer. Use these questions to identify these causes of costly poor quality.

 
You probably are getting the hang of this exercise now. The final 2 Categories of Waste are Motion and Processing. Apply this approach to the other 2 Categories, coming up with questions and the answers that highlight time wasters.

Then – as with the others – use the answers to begin moving toward solutions to reduce your hassles and save yourself time.

Eliminate the waste, and make your days just a little bit better.

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To Improve Yourself, Hone Your Learning Skills – 4/26/16 TOW

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


Facebook didn’t exist 15 years ago, and now companies provide customer service through it. Millennials weren’t a prevalent customer base 10 years ago, and now they dominate many companies’ customer service approach. In many industries, the customer experience wasn’t seen as vital to the bottom line 10 years ago (and still today to some), and now firms such as CSS are devoted exclusively to Improving Your Bottom Line by Improving Your Customer Service.

Time changes aspects of how we serve and who we serve. So the skills you have today – even if they’re a great fit for your company and customers – aren’t necessarily the skills needed tomorrow.

In order to continuously improve, therefore, we have to continuously learn.

That begs the question: How do you learn?

Here are several key practices to put in place to continuously learn:

  • Identify Stars – Which of your co-workers is best in a certain aspect of what you do? Who has knowledge above others? Find the stars and ask how they are so good and how they stay at the top in performance, skills, or knowledge. If you don’t have someone like that in your organization, find tips, podcasts, or other resources from customer service experts that keep you leading edge.
  • Look at Your Past – What have you done previously that led to success? The saying “those that don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it” was focused on failures of the past. But SUCCESS in the past does not guarantee repeat success. What did you do that satisfied that customer, resolved that issue, or retained that client business? Document the “why” behind that success to remember how to replicate it.
  • Debate – Teams make better decisions when there is healthy conflict. They hash out perspectives, uncover ideas, and refine them under the pressure and questioning of debate. For you to tap into healthy conflict in a unique way to learn, identify some topics or types of customers that are challenging. Then talk with co-workers about different approaches for those situations, debating ideas and coming to a consensus on possible best practices. Debate your way to better performance.
  • Measure Yourself – Learn from whatever metrics are important to you, your customer, and your company. Know what truly impacts those measures. Too often people think that hard work alone drives performance, but oftentimes knowing what you do well and focusing your energies on Strengthening Your Strength and avoiding situations where you’re not so skilled is what really moves the needle.
  • Value Complaints – Our first reaction to complaints is often defensiveness, but in the midst of these complaining customers are sometimes nuggets. What can we learn from their complaint, or what drove the complaint, or what you tried to do to resolve it that didn’t calm them down or didn’t work? A complaint can be a gift.
  • Ask Your Customers – What do they think of you, your process, your performance. Ask “How was the experience for you today?” or “Is there anything I could have done better or different in helping you today?” or “Is this the experience you were hoping for today?”
  • Ask Your Clients – I know this sounds like the previous practice, but here I’m defining “client” as a long-term client who knows you fairly well professionally. State “I’m always looking for ways to improve, so I was wondering if you could offer me a little feedback – maybe one thing I do really well and one thing I could do better in some way.”

You may be great today, but remember that tomorrow is another day. Put practices in place to help you stay on the top of your game.

Hone your learning skills.

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Strategize on Sinking Your Competition – 3/8/16 TOW

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


If you could change one thing about your competitor’s customer experience that would make them fold, what would you change? Literally think of specific customer service situations that could occur that could hurt another company’s business.

To spur your thoughts, think about a key competitor of yours. Now here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Ensure your competitor doesn’t respond to e-mails.
  • Make sure there is conflicting information on the website, at the storefront, in customer forms, and provided on the phone.
  • Miss deadlines.
  • Ensure your competitor’s customers wait for long periods of time without telling them the length of the wait or explaining the reason for the delay.
  • Have staff argue with each other in front of customers.
  • Avoid greeting customers when they come in, never smile during the encounter, and don’t thank them at the end.
  • Make sure your competitor’s employees never apologize or say “I’m sorry” for an issue.

Am I suggesting these because I want you to subvert the success of your competitor?

No, I’m suggesting these scenarios (and whatever other scenarios you come up with) because they are the same reasons why customers could leave your business. Or even if you’re in a government organization, these are the reasons why the customer will call to complain or post hateful diatribes on social media.

Take a minute to be subversive. Brainstorm on how to bring down the customer experience of others. Then, use that brainstorming information to evaluate your own organization. Ensure you plug the leaks in an otherwise strong customer experience so that your company’s customer service doesn’t drive customers away.

Strategize on Sinking Your Competition.

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