process improvement | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

When You Can’t Say “Yes to the Address” - 2/7/23


I was interviewing a frontline staff person for one of our local government clients recently as part of our CSS Training Development Process.  They described their customers and the difficult situations that they face, their tougher conversations with customers. This individual supports local events, so there’s a lot of planning involved.  Read more

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

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change – 4/20/21

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

There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal lives.  We could have the challenges of dealing with mean or angry individuals at work.  It could be the challenge of trying to support a customer but not getting the support of your co-worker.  The challenges could be inconsistent communications or ineffective systems and processes.  Maybe our challenge is due to our own personal burdens or biases or lack of professional development.

We have these challenges, but to overcome them or push them aside or deal with them, people have to take some action:

  • You’re dealing with essentially the same complaints from customers in your office every day. What can you do to reduce the number of those complaints that you have to deal with each day?
  • You’ve been given bad directions to a customer’s home 4 times this week – it wasted your time! What can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen 4 times next week?
  • You deal with an issue where you’re just not comfortable or confident. What can you do to become more comfortable and more confident?
  • The system is not intuitive for you. It takes you much longer to accomplish your work than it should.  What can you do to become more proficient?
  • The frustration of that angry customer gets to you. You get flustered and you get defensive, and the next thing you know you’re in a 10-minute conversation that never seems to go anywhere.  What can you do to manage your own emotions better?

We’re always going to have challenges.  We are human, and the people we work with are human, as well.  The systems that we work with are FAR from perfect, too!

Identify 1 or 2 of the challenges that cause you heartburn.  Then determine 1 or 2 actions you can take so that these situations happen less frequently or you’re more effective at dealing with them in the future.

Challenges create opportunity.  Be one of the people that creates change.

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Question Everything, but What’s the Question? – 3/23/21

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

The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work?

Sometimes it’s a great management initiative because it forces us to question the validity in doing things in the future a certain way just because we’ve done them that way in the past.  It can be a beneficial leadership tactic because it gets the organization thinking in a continuous improvement mindset.

But when it comes to customer service, what’s the question?  That depends on our goal.  If we’re an organization that is focused on delighting the customer or wowing the customer or amazing the customer or creating a Disney-like experience, you would ask:  Are employees focused on delighting the customer when they are greeted?  Does our speed of service make the customer go WOW?  Is the physical environment where the service is delivered creating an amazing feel for the experience?

Let’s say your goal is to keep every customer.  Then you would ask:  Are we personalizing every communication with our customer?  Are we proactively touching base with every customer to have an ongoing sense of their feelings about us?  Are we asking enough questions to truly understand why they would stay, why they would go?  Are we asking the right questions to truly understand their needs so we can specifically match up our resources with their needs?

What if your goal is simply to deliver a consistent, accurate, and timely service experience?  First of all, “simply” is probably not the best word to use.  Creating an experience that is consistent, accurate, and timely is anything but simple.  But let’s discuss what questions you would ask:  How are we ensuring that – no matter who delivers a service – it is done in the same manner?  How do we ensure and track accuracy?  How do we define “timely” or have a customer define timely, and how are we meeting the timeliness goal?

To be continuous improvement-oriented, to try to foster positive change, consider questioning everything.  But before you start questioning, first understand what your goal is as an organization, and let that drive what you ask.

Question everything, but first know what’s the question.

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Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult – 1/12/21

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

New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours or days or sometimes weeks of training so that the employees can do their work consistently and effectively.

Customers of our companies typically go through no training.  There are no half-day workshops to learn how to lodge a complaint or request a refund or ask a clarifying question or check on a status.

Customers are not and should not be expected to be experts in our business.  Customers want EASY – Easy to find, easy to access, easy to understand, easy to use.

But Easy is difficult.

I once worked for an administrator in a hospital, and I noted how in certain aspects of operations, we needed to simplify some processes – make it easier on employees to deliver consistently high-quality service.  The administrator responded that his peers don’t think Easy is challenging. I replied:

Making something easy is actually one of the most difficult things you can do in business.

It’s not difficult to have a new procedure or policy, a new function or feature, and just add it on top of what currently exists.  It’s not difficult to just add 5 pages at the back of the standard operations manual.  It’s not difficult to just let incremental complexity grow on a day-by-day and year-by-year basis.

What is difficult is taking a step back, seeing everything through the lens of a customer or an employee, and trying to make it as easy as possible for the employee to deliver great service, or as easy as possible for the customer to have a great experience.

If your organization wants a challenge that will benefit your customer, take on the challenge of Easy.  Find ways to make it easier on the customer to find you or your service offerings.  Make it easier for them to access the information and the solutions they need.  Make the information as easy to understand as possible.  And once they are accessing that product or service, make it as easy as possible to use.

If you need a challenge for the new year, try to make it Easy on the customer.

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