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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

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait – 3/12/24

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

Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax payment, had been standing there for 5 minutes, and the line had not hardly moved.

The supervisor, Janice, came out of her office, saw the customer, and listened to him from a distance for about 10 seconds. Janice turned to Robert and said:  It’s not about the 5-minute wait.

Robert and Janice walked up to the customer to speak with him, and they took the customer to the side, away from the rest of the group. They chatted with him about his situation, and Janice was right.

The customer had to be at work in 15 minutes, and he was a 15-minute drive from his job. He was going to be late.

His mapping app on his phone had directed him to the right building, but the parking spaces were full. So, he had to find another parking area – which was a block away.  That took five more minutes of driving and a 6-7 minute walk to get to the building.

The man lived 20 minutes from this building, so, he had left his home a long time ago to get to this location on time, to make his payment on time, and to get to his job on time.

He actually had to make the payment in person, because the County’s web payment portal was down, and the payment was due today.

Robert just assumed it was an impatient customer raising a ruckus.  Janice didn’t make any assumptions, and – after witnessing the customer from afar for a few seconds – she was pretty sure something else was going on.

When a customer is making a big deal about something that doesn’t seem so big, consider that maybe it’s not about the 5-minute wait.  Show a willingness to ask, listen, and learn.

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Perpetuate Positivity with the Customer – 5/9/23

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We’ve written many Tips on how to deal with various negative customer emotions.  Those emotions could reflect anger, fear of the unknown, upset, anxiety, or nervousness.  But instead of talking today about how to deal with their negative emotions, let’s talk about how to engender some positive emotions.

We want our customers to be happy.  We like when they’re content.  They’re usually more supportive and understanding, less argumentative and less questioning when they have that happiness, they have that contentment.

For Contentment, scientific studies have shown that one key to contentment is for somebody to feel fulfilled or feel at peace.  From a service standpoint, a customer has more of a feeling of fulfillment if they got their needs met, so professionally reinforce when a need was met.  They can be more at peace if they shared their concern, they enjoyed the conversation, and they know what will happen next.

For Happiness, there are strong correlations between happiness and people being pleased, filled with joy, or enthusiastic.  People who are happy tend to have been encouraged and are hopeful.  So, how do we help engender happiness?

Tell them when they do something well.  Tell them the types of positive outcomes that can happen with them, just as they have happened with other customers in similar situations.  Provide some hope of what good could transpire.  Reinforce what’s already been accomplished so that they are pleased, and give it with some positive energy to impart your enthusiasm on the customer.

When interacting with your customers, use proactive tools to impart positivity.

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Are You in a Position? – 5/2/23

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Last week’s Tip compared Perspectives and Positions, and we noted that when people have a perspective on a given topic or issue, that’s often useful.  However, when people are more focused on their position, things can get testy.

One topic we didn’t fully address last week was the definition of Position.  Using a military analogy to define position, think about old war movies where soldiers dig a trench.  They’re taking up a position.  They hunker down in the trench, raise up to shoot at the opposition, and then they duck back into the trench.  Trenches don’t move.  The battle can take a long time, and they typically don’t advance until the opposition dies or they retreat.  They’re stuck.

Here are some other, more business-oriented examples of taking a position:

Mine is More Important: I facilitated a community group that was addressing how to best use funds from a national settlement.  Funds were to be used to address a community health issue.  There were over 20 members of the group, and – initially – each of them thought that their cause or solution deserved the majority of the funding.  There were 20 different positions.

Date Conflict: One employee said their draft report would be ready on Thursday.  The other employee told their teammate that it needed to be done on Wednesday.

The Full Refund: An event attendee wanted a full refund for the costs of their tickets to the sporting event that had a long weather delay.  The policy stated that there were no full refunds.

These are three very different examples, but they have one commonality – they all start with people taking a position.

Even though the starting point might be the position, just like in the military analogy, if we maintain those positions, the battle will go on for a long time.  People might fire shots at the other until one person, one position gets beaten down, or the other retreats.

Remember these examples to recognize quickly when someone is taking a position, so you can redirect and – instead – identify common goals.  This could save yourself and the other person from unnecessary arguments, negative emotions, and wasted time.

Recognize when you (or they) are in a position.

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