issue resolution | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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


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.  Read more

How to Fix Other People’s Problems - 1/31/23


I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone - let’s call her Katie. There had been poor communication between different Read more

What to do When You’re in the Middle - 1/24/23


Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being Read more

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? - 1/17/23


Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most Read more

Decide Who’s Driving the Bus - 1/10/23


I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus? I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a Read more

How to Fix Other People’s Problems – 1/31/23

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

I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone – let’s call her Katie.

There had been poor communication between different employees at the clinic, but Katie didn’t throw the others “under the bus.”

The office coordinator (who has since left the practice) had previously told my friend that the coordinator had certain paperwork, but the papers had not been filed correctly.  However, Katie still apologized on behalf of the office for the coordinator’s misstatement.

Another practice was supposed to forward information to this office, but they sent it to the wrong facility.  Katie offered to call that other practice to get them to resend it.

Katie tried to call my friend, but my friend had changed their phone number and forgot to tell the office, so the calls did not go through.  Katie did not complain or huff and puff in frustration; instead, she offered to update the contact information so she could follow up with my friend.

It wasn’t Katie’s fault, and it’s probably not your fault in most cases when you find yourself in these situations.  Sometimes it’s the co-worker that drops the ball.  Maybe it’s another organization that didn’t do something correctly.  Perhaps the customer makes a mistake.

Katie showed that even though it wasn’t her fault, she was willing to rectify the problem.  She was willing to apologize on behalf of others.  She was willing to be proactive, and she was willing to do it without a negative tone or a negative word.

Channel your inner Katie the next time you find yourself having to fix problems caused by others.

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What to do When You’re in the Middle – 1/24/23

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

Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being the moderator, the mediator, the facilitator.

CSS does a tremendous amount of facilitation work, and it’s not just facilitating disagreements between customers and employees.  Usually it’s facilitation of groups where you have various stakeholders meeting, and they all have their own particular interest or position.

The key phrase we use when facilitating conversations like this is Healthy, Productive, and Effective.  You want Healthy conversation, where the discussion is about the issue or the goal, not the individuals involved.  Make sure people don’t make it personal or take it personal.

Productive means you try to stay on task.  Everybody understands up front what the goal is and how much time we have to discuss it, and those things that are not pertinent are identified and put on a “parking lot” for future reference.

Effective means starting with the end in mind and keeping a focus on that end.  The end is the goal.  It’s not the process to get to the goal.  People can get stuck in their specific solution or the process to get to that solution, but you just want them to think about the goal.  The more you can get them to focus on a common goal, the better chance you have of getting them there.  The more they fixate on their solution or their position or how they want to get there, the more difficult it’s going to be for you to be effective and for participants to get to their goal.

The next time you find yourself in the middle of an argument or a meeting between Bob and Sarah, identify a common goal up front.  Try not to get people focused on their position.  Make the conversation about the goal and not about the personalities involved.  Identify the time constraints, and professionally move the tangents to the parking lot.

Facilitate effectively when you find yourself in the middle.

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The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service – 8/30/22

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

Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others.

The Good…

Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs with us.  We are constantly improving our services by being good listeners.  You can contact Jim Smith, CEO of Acme Paper Products directly to voice the good, bad and ugly.

The Really Good…

I read this article a couple months ago:  3 Customers Showed Up at a Starbucks as It Was Closing. The Barista’s Response Was Completely Unexpected. The customer showed up 3 minutes late after closing, but the employee still took and filled the order.  At the drive-through window, after the customer apologized for ordering after hours, the employee said: “No problem. We love making your favorite drink, and we’re always happy to make it!”

The Ugly…

Robert needed to contact a DMV fraud department.  The website said they are open Wednesday/Thursday 9-10am.  He waited from Friday to Wednesday to call them.  He called Wednesday, and the phone line said they are open Monday/Tuesday/Thursday 8-10 am.  So, he waited another day and called during open hours.  The phone tree said, “We won’t respond to messages left on this line,” and then it told him to leave a message.

Look at these three stories, and find your own lessons learned for yourself or for your organization. See what good you can pull from each, and try to avoid the ugly from story #3.

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