learn | 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

Stop Rolling Your Eyes – 5/7/19

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

Most of our customer service tips offer advice and guidance. But advice and guidance is useless if the individual receiving it is not willing to listen, learn the theory behind it, and try to apply what they’ve heard or learned.

I’ve personally facilitated hundreds of training sessions with clients over the years, and it doesn’t happen terribly often, but sometimes I will notice an attendee rolling their eyes when I suggest something, or they’re saying something under their breath to the person sitting next to them. Often, I can tell by reading the body language or hearing a little bit of what was said that the point they’re making is “That wouldn’t work with our customers.”

Maybe what we’re suggesting wouldn’t work, since nothing works on 100% of the customers in 100% of the situations. But unless an individual employee has a perfect batting average in their encounters with customers, they can learn more. And even if they are “batting 1000,” the situations tomorrow, the customers tomorrow, the processes of tomorrow, and the technology of tomorrow will all be different, and that risk of striking out is back in play.

So, today’s Tip is not a specific technique. It’s not a specific how to. It’s a suggestion to listen when a co-worker suggests something. It’s a suggestion to be open to hearing a success story and spending a minute to think about how you can apply that to your daily work. It’s a suggestion to hear a technique and not dismiss it because your customers are different. Rather, consider how to apply the why behind the what to what’s unique about you, your company, and your customers.

Being open to learn and grow is one of the greatest assets you can have in this rapidly-changing world of customer service.

View every encounter with your leaders, your peers, your trainers, and your customers as an opportunity to listen and to learn.

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A Blockbuster of a Mess – 5/3/16 TOW

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It was vacation time at the beach – and it was pouring rain. With no beach time possible and with the unappetizing thought of spending all day long inside with a condo full of teenagers, Jacob decided to find something to do. So with teenagers in tow, Jacob took the kids to the movies.

They went to the nearest theater – the first time they had been there – and what started out as a great idea for a 2-3 hour diversion became a good decision gone bad.

Now keep in mind, it’s a Saturday afternoon and it’s pouring, so that’s a good indication to theater management that it’s going to be busy; a blockbuster was opening that weekend – again, it’s going to be busy. So Jacob and his crew arrived at the theater about 30 minutes early, waiting in the rain for 15 minutes – got up to the ticket window and were told – it JUST SOLD OUT. Ugh.

Good news! Next show is in 30 minutes. So they bought the tickets and went inside, but they and eventually about 80-100 other people were waiting behind a rope. Although there were 4 concession areas, there was only 1 open; the other 3 were closed, and the staff wouldn’t let customers buy any concessions or wander around the rest of the lobby until the other movies started. So 80-100 wet people were cramped behind a rope and against the wall together until the next show was about to start.

The lessons were many.

The forecast had said rain for days. The theater knew of the blockbuster opening for weeks. Staffing could have increased to open other concessions. They could have modified the rope lines and setup to allow people access to more of the lobby so they weren’t so cramped. They could have said “I’m sorry” at least once or twice. But none of this happened.

No anticipation – of high demand on Saturday.
No adjustments – to staffing or customer access/flow.
No acknowledgement – of the issues.
No apologies – by staff.

Look ahead to Anticipate and Adjust. And when that doesn’t work, Acknowledge and Apologize.

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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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