proactive | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24

In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24

Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24

Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24

The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24

The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24

I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the Read more

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24

A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24

It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24

Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24

When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently – 2/6/24

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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 fame, fortune, awards, power, position.

I believe success can be defined in a lot of ways having nothing to do with any of those accomplishments.  Sometimes those outcomes shouldn’t be the definitions of success.  So, especially as it relates to customer service, let’s define Success differently.

Noted below are three quotes.  Let’s look at how they apply to our work in trying to become successful in customer service.

Effort measures success better than outcome.

When we’re engaged with the customer or dealing with a difficult situation at the office, we can control ourselves, our response, or approach to the conversation.  We cannot always control the environment; we can rarely control the other people involved.  But the environment and the others involved affect the outcome of the situation.  So, don’t get down on yourself if the outcome wasn’t what you were hoping for or the overall tone of the conversation did not strike the right chord.  Define success as having done your best.

The cost of success is exceeded only by the cost of failure.

There’s rarely a perfect solution to a complex situation.  But in the vast majority of the cases, doing something gives you a better chance of success than doing nothing.  Deciding to respond to the e-mail or the voicemail when you don’t have an answer, instead of not responding at all.  Taking action on behalf of the customer instead of hoping that – by ignoring them – they will go away.  In customer service, the cost of doing nothing is a higher likelihood of failure, of losing the customer, of engendering that negative word-of-mouth, of creating bigger issues for your co-workers down the road.

Don’t be irreplaceable.  If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.

Too many people feel that knowledge is power.  They believe in hoarding information or their experience or their expertise so that only they can use it.  This is not only a sign of somebody who’s not a team player, but it can actually be a deterrence to career development.  If we don’t share with others and try to build up and support our teammates, why would leadership want to move us up knowing that they would have a void they cannot fill?

Don’t define success purely based on the outcome.  Define customer service success by your efforts, your willingness to take action on behalf of the customer, and your willingness to impart your knowledge and wisdom to others.

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Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up – 1/30/24

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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 we do and the number of client calls and meetings we have throughout the week.

The construction doesn’t affect every part of the building all the time, but the building manager wanted to update me on the progress.  She told me when my area might be most affected by loud – and I mean LOUD – noise, so I could plan to go offsite if needed, and she asked me to proactively check-in with her if the noise was disruptive or something unusual happened.

She gave me a heads up.

This wasn’t even a warning of what would definitely happen.  It was an explanation of what might happen, when it might happen, and why it could happen.  She explained things in detail, yet conversationally.  She asked me to reach out and let her know if anything unexpected happens or if I had any questions.

This is basically a situation where nothing negative may end up happening to the customer, but the company knows something could happen.  Therefore, instead of hoping for the best and not engaging the customer unless the customer came to her with a complaint, she decided to be proactive. She decided to set some expectations. She decided to create dialogue.  She had enough knowledge of her customer’s type of business to understand how I might be impacted.

And I appreciated it.

Service recovery is typically what you do to recover after an issue happens, but the building manager engaged before something happened.

This is about being proactive to avoid the complaint, or to mitigate the negative effect on the customer, or to enable the customer to prepare themselves so that they are not inconvenienced, frustrated, or upset.

The next time you’re aware of something with your organization’s products, services, communications, or environment that may negatively affect the customer, let your customer know what to expect.  Let them know when things may happen.  Let them know how to communicate and with whom to communicate if any difficult situations arise.

Care enough to give the customer a heads up.

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Same Place, Different Experiences – 9/26/23

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Meredith was getting discharged from the clinic, when the nurse came in, gave her a packet of information including the discharge instructions, explained the next steps, and asked if Meredith had any questions.  Freida, across the hall, was told that she could leave when ready.  However, Freida had to ask if there were any discharge instructions since she hadn’t received any.

Meredith was going to the sporting event, and she was very excited!  Her account representative e-mailed her a week beforehand with instructions on parking options and other amenities/activities around and in the arena.  Freida showed up to the same sporting event.  She had no idea where to park, how much it would cost, or where to enter the arena.

Meredith happened by a new coffee shop, and she ordered a drink.  The employee showed her where the cream, milk, chocolate, and other items were that Meredith could add to her coffee.  The employee also told her about a loyalty program.  Freida went to that same coffee shop later in the day, got her coffee, and left.  She thought:  This tastes good but could have used a little more milk and a dash of mocha.

Both Meredith and Freida went to the same businesses on the same day.  Obviously, these businesses need to learn a lot about consistency, because they were all inconsistent in the experiences that their customers received.  In each case, Meredith had a better experience.  And the key differentiator was that the people serving Meredith were proactive.  They were anticipating next steps, and the result was a customer who was more comfortable, more confident, had a better experience, and even had a better cup of coffee!

Don’t wait for the customer to ask.  Stand out from the crowd by simply being more proactive.

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