municipal | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection - 9/27/22


Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like Read more

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

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


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 Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But Read more

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

Change City Culture by Doing This…and What Else?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 12-2-14In the recent WTOC story City Council discusses budget, customer service, the City of Savannah is highlighted for their initiative to change the culture of the organization. They plan to setup rate-your-service kiosks and put everyone through customer service training. While these are positive actions to take, there has to be more, right?

When you think about a culture, you think about “how things work around here,” you think about how decisions are made, how relationships work, how communications flow, what it’s really like to work at the City of Savannah. So what impacts that?

The organization’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values impact that; leadership has the biggest impact on that culture. Reward/recognition systems, accountability based on well-documented and well-communicated customer service standards impact that culture. The organizational structure, workflow processes, who and how they hire, and internal and external communications impact culture. And yes, measurement is important, but how are they creating a consistent dialogue with residents to truly know and act on the “Voice of the Customer?”

Too many organizations take an approach to changing culture that is like putting new tires on your car; the new tires make the car look a little fresher and shinier, but they haven’t impacted what truly makes the car go.

When you are looking to change culture, realize that you’re about to undertake something important, something big!

Take a comprehensive approach to culture change.

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The Customer Service Rep Stuck Inside the Robot

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 10-13-14Usually I can share an insightful “lesson learned” from customer service stories on the web, but this one is too little weird to evaluate; yet, it’s interesting enough to share.

In the article Robot makes big bang at Indy airport, you can see a picture of a robot that circulates baggage claim at the Indianapolis International Airport with an iPad on top showing the face of a guest services employee. The robot is fashionably dressed in a blue golf shirt and a lavaliere that I assume has his/her/its (?) name badge.

You can’t make this stuff up!

The idea is to bring customer service to the customers instead of their having to go upstairs to the guest services department. I’m reaching for any other benefit, but I’m sure someone creative will begin incorporating printing functionality on the robot, baggage handling, child watching, and coffee dispensing among the many other uses of the robot.

I’m not certain why they couldn’t put an actual person there instead of a robot (except for the “off hours” opportunity where staff could work remotely through the robot while guest services is closed), but the concept is interesting.

Share this post, and offer your thoughts “socially” – How could this robot best be used?

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In Government, Do You Want Good Customer Service or Low Costs?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 3-19-14Quality, Price, Service – Select any 2.

This is the sign that supposedly hangs (or hung) in dry cleaners across the country. The point is, you can’t have all 3, so figure out – essentially – what you DON’T want.

In the world of customer service, organizations often have a similar question – Do we want good customer service or low costs?

This is based on the assumption that you can’t have great customer service without increasing costs. The recent article Water operations review in GA county seeks cost savings, customer service improvements notes how one Georgia county is trying to do both.

The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has hired a consulting firm to evaluate organizational efficiencies, but in doing so also improve customer service. There isn’t a great deal of detail in the article, but you can glean some of the strategy by what’s included in the article: “The partnership is also expected to improve customer service and reduce wait times for customers. A thorough review of the utility’s administration, planning, operations, maintenance and capital programs, customer service, and billing and collections will also occur.”

To improve customer service, one key is to view customer service as the composition of the employee attitudes and the service processes. More standardized, high-quality processes often are more efficient and result in less rework, fewer complaints to address, and higher productivity. This equates to lower cost.

The review of multiple departments suggests that they’re looking from a structure and process perspective to find inefficiencies in internal processes, internal communications, and communications about customer needs/issues. Streamlining internal processes often results in improved efficiency, and designing processes and customer communications to be better coordinated usually improves the customer experience.

It is definitely possible to reduce costs and improve customer service at the same time. The key is to look at processes and communications: Where is the poor quality? There’s a cost to poor quality. Where are the complaints? There’s a cost to address those. Where is there a lack of standardization? There’s financial benefit to moving to best practice. Where are the redundancies? There’s savings from eliminating waste.

Learn a little from these water works – focus on process and communications to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

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