phrases | 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

A Great 2-Minute E-mail – 8/23/22

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

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 and managers in Service Excellence Training that they just have too many emails and voicemails to respond to customers.

That may be the case, and maybe the root cause of all those messages is a bad experience, understaffing, or poor processes and communications.  So, there is a need to get at the root causes to drive down those large numbers of unwanted customer complaints.

But it doesn’t take 30 minutes to send a good e-mail.  It doesn’t even take 10 minutes to craft the perfect response.  In most cases, you can easily create a great e-mail in less than 2 minutes.

The client had been coming to the venue for events for years, and something had changed. Certain gates were closed that had once been open.  Handicap access was different than it had been in the past.  They were a long-time customer, and this change was a frustration.  Here’s the employee’s response:

Hi John,

Thank you for your feedback, and I’m sorry about the difficulties accessing the venue.  I will make note of your concern and see if we can come up with a solution.  

For some background as to why we changed from Gate B to Gate C for the event, our Gate C is closest to the wheelchair ramp.  We wanted to make sure folks have the easiest access to the ramp.  I’m sorry we didn’t communicate about the change well-enough prior to the event.  I’ll follow-up with you prior to the next event with an update.

Thank you again,

Mary

There’s personalization, empathy, apology, commitment to action, explaining why without making excuses, taking ownership, and closing with appreciation and personalization – all in about 100 words…and under 2 minutes.  This is far better than no response, and far better than most e-mails consumers receive these days.

The next time you feel you have too much going on to respond to e-mails, do what’s right and help the customer feel valued.  Try to be great…in under 2 minutes.

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

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“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 with more authority.  Also, some customers just immediately go to the supervisor and don’t even give the employee the chance to address the need.

Why Pause before You Transfer

Before you do the immediate handoff, we suggest that you go through a couple quick steps.  Why?  Because you may be able to help this person.  You could save the customer time by them not having to leave a voicemail for someone who is unavailable at that moment.  You could save them the hassle of being transferred or having to talk to multiple additional people.  And you could save your co-workers the time of having to deal with something that may be unnecessary to run by them, particularly if there’s little information shared on the situation.

What Process to Use

Here’s how to handle these situations:

  • Assure the customer that you want to help and you can help, whether that help means getting them to the supervisor or the person over that particular area. Let them know that you’re wanting to help, and you’re happy to set up that conversation.
  • Clarify the situation. Ask them: Just to make sure I understand the situation… or To make sure I send you to the right person… or To ensure you get your need addressed in the best way possible…  Then ask for a few details.  By clarifying the situation, you’re determining if you can help, you’re confirming to whom to send the customer, and you’re enabling yourself to provide background information to the supervisor.
  • Offer to address the need yourself, if possible. This could result in your actually fixing the issue or providing the information.  It could involve your acting on their behalf to engage the supervisor and get back to the customer.
  • Take the Next Step. This is when you let them know what you’re about to do next and when you’re going to do it, whether it is resolving the issue, operating on their behalf, or going ahead and connecting them with the person to best meet their needs.

 
When they want to talk to your supervisor, Assure, Clarify, Offer, and Take the Next Step to make sure that issues get addressed in the best manner possible for the customer, the co-worker, and the company.

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

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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 to blame, but by blaming them, we are often whipping the emotions up.  And when we’re dealing with service recovery, we want to bring the emotions down.  We can waste a lot of time and energy dealing with emotions and never getting to a solution, so we want to find ways to deal with issues without focusing on blame.

Avoiding the You

Avoiding discussions of blame requires that we avoid discussions of You.  At a high level, we basically try to avoid the Who, and focus on the What and the When.  We literally talk about the issue, what happened, when did it happen, how did things occur.  We spend enough time on the issue only to understand the direction to go with the solution.

And with the solution, again, we focus on the What and the When, the How, and – sometimes – the Who.

So how do we avoid talking about who caused the issue?  Sometimes it’s very easy – just talk about what steps were taken without saying who took those steps.  We literally avoid the word You, and we actually use a little passive voice (When this happened… or This occurred after…).  Those are softer ways to describe an occurrence than You did this… You caused this… This problem was created by you.

Getting to the Solution

Again, we want to understand the issue well enough to get to the solution, but we don’t want to be mired in the emotion.  Sometimes it pays not to focus on who is right and who is wrong.  Instead, we need to focus on getting to the right solution as quickly as possible.

The next time you find yourself in one of these service recovery situations and the customer’s clearly in the wrong, focus on the issue and solution, and try to avoid assigning blame.

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