leadership | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24


Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24


There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24


I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24


When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

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

Pivot to a Stronger Post-COVID Culture

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

If there ever was a time for virtually every organization to assess their culture, this is it.  Culture not only drives customer service, but it also drives long-term organizational success.  While leaders can define the Desired Culture and can chart a Vision, leaders typically do very little of the actual work in any organization.  Just think of the math.  In an organization that has only 100 employees, the chief executive does about 1% of the work.

We are not diminishing the importance of the leader as much as we are highlighting the importance of the leader’s role in developing an engaged, productive, and effective workforce.

“This is an opportunity to rethink the future.”

 
Most organizations have been forced to transition because of changes in demand for services, changes in how services are delivered, or changes in where and how employees work.  In other words, the external environment has forced internal change.

This is an opportunity to rethink the future.  This is an opportunity for leaders to take a step back and paint a picture of the future business, the customer’s engagement with that business, and the type of internal culture needed to succeed in that new world.

Four Steps to Plan for Future Success

Here are four major steps to consider today to ensure your organization is still relevant and successful tomorrow:

  • Create as clear a vision of the future customer as possible, including their needs and wants in both services and the service experience.
  • Paint a vision of the services that are going to address the needs and wants of that future customer.
  • Identify the mechanisms that you’re going to use, including processes, technology, and facilities, to deliver those services.
  • Determine the kind of culture you need in order for that delivery approach to meet future customer needs.

 
The front-end key to this overall approach is to incorporate the Voice of the Customer to ensure you are creating this new Service System based on customer needs, issues, and goals.  Don’t create a strategy in a vacuum.

The back-end key to this approach is to clearly work with staff to educate them on the future of the customer base and the future of the organization, and include them in the discussion of the desired culture and how to make that culture a reality.

This is a time to strengthen the culture, and to strengthen it you may need to pivot from where you’ve been in the past to where you need to be for future success.


Make Complaints Constructive – 7/18/17

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


Sandy aspires to be an excellent manager. She’s new to a leadership role and new to the organization. She’s come into her department with a ton of passion and energy. And now she’s in the middle of her “listening tour” – talking to different groups of employees, understanding the department’s history, its culture, and its approach to customer service.

In the middle of her third meeting, all her passion and energy started to get sapped – minute by minute, complaint by complaint. She was listening to staff, but it had turned into a gripe session. Literally nothing she was hearing was positive. Issue after issue was voiced. Sandy thought about asking – “What is something/ANYTHING positive going on in the department?”, but she didn’t want to have her staff feel like they couldn’t voice complaints to her or that she only wanted to hear positives.

So she asked a different question: What are some solutions to the issues we’re discussing?

Crickets. Nobody said a word, for 5 seconds, then 15, then 30.

Sandy gave into the silence and said: For example, what can be done differently, more consistently, or better relating to communications, planning, decision-making, relationship-building – just the general work environment?

And finally, people started offering ideas – not a ton of ideas, but it changed the dynamic of the conversation. The tone became less negative, and staff offered some great solutions to consider.

There are many lessons to learn from this, but let’s focus on two.

First, managers, listen to your staff. Communication is a 2-way street, and that bi-directional dialogue is great for understanding culture, morale, and even customer viewpoints from those closest to the customers – front-line staff.

Second, growth only comes through change and improvement, so complaints without solutions aren’t productive – they don’t lead to improvement and growth. Staff should support leaders with ideas to complement the complaints. Likewise, when dealing with complaining customers, sometimes asking the customer “What could we do to make this right?” or “What solution would help in this situation?” could make our lives as service providers easier – with customers offering solutions for us to consider instead of employees having to conjure up all the creative ideas themselves.

Do you have a complaint? Are you dealing with a complaining customer or employee? Consider tapping into the ideas of those complaining to identify potential solutions.

Make Complaints Constructive.

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The Light that Others Reflect – 10/25/16

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


Getting philosophical for the next 300 words.

The angry customer. The pushy or obnoxious co-workers. The demanding manager. The products that don’t always work. The stress on the faces and in the voices of customers and the employees serving them.

There are many dark moments that you may have to deal with during the course of your week at work. These are the dark encounters of our work day, those that can bring down morale, reduce the joy, and dampen employee enthusiasm.

But there is a light. There is a source of positivity, laughter, vision, and empathy. And that light is you.

I’ve been in some focus groups of employees discussing low morale. It seems like half the staff have the mindset of “once leaders change, then I’ll change.” While the other half seem to say “I’m not going to wait for others to behave professionally or positively before I act that way as well. They don’t control my behaviors.”

There’s an obvious difference in the two reactions. The first is passivity in the darkness. The second is taking ownership.

When we have a light – a positive nature, kindness, professionalism, respect, empathy and encouragement – we can be like the light in a room. Have you ever been in a room with a couple large mirrors? Those mirrors reflect that one light, helping the entire room to brighten more than it would otherwise.

The point is that dark situations at work should be opportunities for us – opportunities to bring in light. Opportunities to have your light be reflected in the attitudes and actions of others.

Be the Light that Others Reflect.

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