plan | 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

Make it a “Good Busy” – 9/28/21

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

When I’m speaking with colleagues or clients, I’ll often ask how their day is going. The response I get almost once a week is something like:  I’m incredibly busy!

When I get that response, sometimes I’ll ask whether it is a “good busy” or whether they are “fighting fires.”

I’ll ask that question to gauge how they’re feeling.  Being “good busy” with important work helps you feel positive and fulfilled.  Spending days just fighting fires – urgent tasks that pop up unexpectedly or at the last minute – can result in anxiety, stress, and poor quality work.  That can trickle into customer engagement where we’re too busy to be responsive to customers, are short in speaking with them, or make mistakes in service actions.

While fighting fires is something that we could deal with because other people fill our inbox at the last minute, some of the activities that are urgent and require us to drop everything else or cause us to work into the late hours every evening are things we can control.

If we find ourselves constantly working on the urgent to meet a deadline at the last second, if we find ourselves constantly stressing about not having enough hours in the day, if we find ourselves feeling unsettled with all the plates that are spinning around us at the same time, realize that this situation is something we can take more control over in the future.

Particularly where you have deadlines, document the key steps that need to be addressed and how much time others will need to do their part through the process.  Put those timelines on your daily To Do List.  Reflect back on how much time it takes to do these tasks so that you’re allocating enough time today on something that needs to be completed three days from now.  You have enough understanding of how many activities you can do in one day, so, where you have control over those activities and when they’re done, you can massage your schedule for the week so that the workload is a little more evened out.

We’re all going to be busy at times if not almost all times, but the type of busy we’re dealing with is often affected by how well we’re planning to meet the deadlines.

Make it a Good Busy.

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General George Patton on Customer Service – 4/3/18

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


Here’s a quote from General George Patton: “Plans must be simple and flexible. They should be made by the people who are going to execute them.”

We’ve worked with enough companies to know that employees get irate when they’re told about plans too late or they’re not involved in any way, shape, or form in the decision-making process. Therefore, they’re given last minute instructions and plans that – oftentimes – they know will not work as designed. This lack of frontline employee input can easily lead to a lack of success.

But not all plans are strategic in nature or need to be executive-driven. Many plans – especially those that are more situational – can be developed by individual employees. You are the ones who are going to be executing these plans. You are the ones who are going to tailor them to the situation or the individual that you are interacting with at the time.

Therefore, create plans to cover some of these important but common situations:

  • You’re asked a question, and you don’t have the knowledge or experience to answer.
  • The customer complains and then demands immediate resolution.
  • You’re given a last minute project by a supervisor, when you already have competing deadlines on other projects.
  • The other person is making a request that you know cannot be addressed the way they want it addressed, or in the timeframe they want it addressed.
  • The customer asks about a product or service that you don’t have or don’t deliver.
  • The customer complains about your co-worker, your company, or some issue that occurred years ago.

 
These are all typical issues that many of us may run into occasionally (or frequently!). Instead of putting yourself in a position to have to come up with the perfect answer on the spot, create plans for how you would address each of the situations.

Yes, the customer and the specific concern may to be unique in every case. However, if you have a plan, your comfort and confidence level will rise, and you will eliminate one variable of the equation when determining how to address the situation.

Create simple and flexible plans for common (but important) situations.

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The Wedding Crasher – 7/19/16 TOW

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


In theory, the wedding photographer is invited, stays on the periphery, gets the candid shots, and takes excellent wedding party/posed pictures as well. That is what Mary experienced at her wedding – the photographer visited the site of the wedding and reception beforehand, met with the bride-to-be, discussed plans, timing, and locations. She scoped out photography angles, lighting characteristics, and got a sense for the theme and colors of the wedding. The wedding was beautiful, and everything was captured wonderfully by the photographer.

Mary’s sister Maggie had a different wedding photographer – this individual spoke to Maggie on the phone a couple times before the wedding and “didn’t have time” the week of the wedding to scope out the locations and plans with Maggie. Instead, he visited the wedding and reception sites a couple weeks earlier on his own.

On the day of the wedding he showed up – just 15 minutes before the ceremony – wearing his bright red shirt and tie – which stuck out like a sore thumb with the earth tones and white colors of the wedding. He continually moved during the ceremony to get the right shot – often distracting those in attendance, and he took way too many pictures – at least it appeared that way because of how much he was in the middle of all the activity.

He was as much of a wedding crasher as he was a wedding photographer.

When the pictures came back, there were several good, but too many were posed, too many had lighting issues, certain features of the reception location were missed, too many relatives and friends were not included, and – therefore – Maggie thought his fees seemed too high.

Sometimes the best experiences are made that way by talking to the customer first – what do they want, what do they expect, and how do they define success? Sometimes your planning process helps you paint a prettier picture with your product.

Don’t simply deliver a product. Engage the customer beforehand to see the desired experience through their eyes.

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