openness | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

Redefine “Access” to Treat Customers Special - 11/29/22


One of our clients puts on major events throughout the country.  When we conduct post-event surveys, many of the attendees rave about the access they had to certain entertainers, locations in the venue, parking lots, or even information.  Others decry the fact that they lacked that access. This does pose Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers – 12/13/22

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

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 are disrespectful, and some just flat don’t know how to communicate politely or professionally.  So, it’s understandable why our emotions are triggered, and we can reflect their ornery nature if we’re not careful.

One way to deal with the ornery customer is to have an open mind.  I’m not suggesting that we capitulate to their concern.

Rather, we need our mind to be open to finding new ways to navigate the conversation.  New ways to get to resolution.  New ways to close a conversation.

I’m not talking technique, per se, about how to handle the angry customer.  We’ve dealt with that many times in these tips.  Instead, I’m talking about how we handle ourselves intellectually in a conversation that has the potential to go down the tubes emotionally.

Openness is about allowing the new, the creative, the different, the atypical path forward.  What people can you involve in the conversation or direct the customer to in order to move forward?  What process can you begin that can make the conversation more productive?  Is there an action you can take in front of the customer – right then – to show that you’re in it with them?  Is there an action you can have them do at that moment so they feel like progress has started (and to distract them a little)?  Is there a way to end the conversation with your promise of a follow-up call, e-mail, or text by the end of the day?

When you’re dealing with the ornery customer, you have to deal with the emotions.  But if we keep an open mind about the possible solutions for the situation, maybe that emotion won’t dominate our reaction.  Maybe we can more quickly close the conversation and move to the next step.

Keep an open mind with the ornery customer.

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

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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 great customer experience.  They need to excel at customer service.  They need to have core values that everybody can live.

The core values of a local government entity can often tie-in really nicely with any type of business.  Think about these example core values and how they can apply to your organization:

Trustworthy.  Can your customers trust what you’re saying?  Have the expectations you’ve set in the past been met by reality?  Or have the promises of sales not been able to be delivered by operations and customer service?  Make sure your operations can deliver on what is promised.

Clear. Sometimes confusion can lead to complaints.  Because where there’s confusion, customers and employees can more easily do something wrong or miss a step.  Where there is lack of clarity, sometimes two people can have very different expectations.  Are your communications clear – simple, specific, repeated, and documented?

Timely.  This is a nebulous word when it comes to customer service.  What one person thinks is timely may not be the same as another.  So, it’s important to define timely expectations for the customer, or ask what their definition of timeliness is, and – if unrealistic – redefine that to a reasonable expectation.

Open. Since local governments are typically funded by tax dollars and fees, transparency and openness are an expectation.  So, when you think about your business, is there information that is hidden from the customer because of fear of the reaction or how it might affect their decision?  Has that hiding of information – or at least not sharing of information – ever come back to bite the company in the end?  Make sure we’re open up front, so the customer doesn’t get the unnecessary surprise on the back end.

Learn a few lessons from our local government clients.  Make sure your customer service is trustworthy, clear, timely, and open.

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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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