process improvement | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

A Story of Willie and Aubrey - 2/8/22


The gift shop was a great experience!  Aubrey had bought items online from the shop for years, but she had never stepped foot in the store itself.  However, when travel plans took her on a trip to new surroundings, she took time out of her day to go to Read more

It Matters Who You Know - 2/1/22


The season ticket account holder has an issue, but he’s not too concerned about it:  I’m going to call my guy, and he’ll take care of it. The patient is confused about their bill.  The family member says: I know someone who can help. The husband discovers a problem in the Read more

Put an End to 1-Star Ratings - 1/25/22


If you ever had service performed on your car, I would not doubt it if you received the immediate e-mail asking for that 5-star rating. They want the big ratings because that makes them look good, and to get the big average rating you have to avoid the 1-Star Read more

Signs of Service Recovery Situations - 1/18/22


As we continue the slow trend of more and more customer interactions becoming in-person again, we need to remember those signs that we’re about to enter one of THOSE conversations.  It can typically take only 5-10 seconds to realize this is going to be a high-risk situation with the Read more

In Survey Development, Think in Reverse - 1/11/22


We often meet with clients interested in conducting a survey, and when we discuss the project, many clients come with questions in-hand.  They are interested, curious, even excited sometimes about the possibility of tapping into the voice of the customer! And when we review their questions and start to see Read more

Foster Positive Feelings - 1/4/22


I bet a lot of you all are like me - when you’re asked to share your feelings, it’s not always something that feels comfortable.  It obviously depends on the situation and who’s asking you to share your feelings.  So, many of us might hesitate in sharing our feelings. However, Read more

How to Make the Situation Right - 12/28/21


The manager in the field office felt that - when problems arose with customers - the company didn’t do an especially good job of responding effectively.  He felt like this was hurting customer renewals of annual service agreements.  The company developed many customer service and retention initiatives with little Read more

2021 Holiday Poem - 12/21/21


Breathe and rest and relax and rejuvenate. Close the eyes, and fill the lungs. Take a break, and be with friends. This is a time to begin. Renaissance is called a rebirth. Birth can bring new life. Life gives opportunity for living. Living gives opportunity for joy. We have so many outside factors, So many things that tug Read more

“I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Mean “I’m Guilty” - 12/14/21


Individuals and organizations mess up; that’s part of life… They told me that they were going to be at my home at a certain time; they were REALLY late.  The customer service representative said they would get a message to a co-worker, and the co-worker would call me back; I Read more

Apply Selfless Service - 12/7/21


Andrea had worked in human resources for years, and the company decided that it wanted to hire employees who were more customer service-oriented, regardless of the position.  After making that decision, they added some creative questions to the interview process. One of the most interesting questions that Andrea had to 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

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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

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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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