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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

The Error of “Everyone” – 9/24/19

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

A recent article in The Charlotte Observer got me thinking about a concept, a premise that is suggested all too often in society. First, the article: The story was about lawn care, and some of the people quoted in the article talked about what customers want today. They noted how customers want to be good stewards of the environment, they want sustainable solutions, they want to protect pollinators like bees, and they want pesticides used with discretion.

While these statements on what customers want are not exactly the most controversial statements in the world, somebody reading this article could easily make the assumption that all customers want all of these things. When customers are making decisions about whether to buy a service from a particular company, their decision is based purely on this criteria. One could read the article and assume that these are the absolute priorities for EVERYONE.

This concept – that everyone wants A, B, or C, that nobody likes D, E, or F, that the priorities how I state them are everyone’s priorities – this is a concept that I can’t agree with as a customer service consultant.

When defining what all customers want in absolute terms, it’s a slippery slope. To deliver great customer service consistently, to retain and grow business with customers, we have to view each customer as unique. If we assume everyone wants A, B, or C, and nobody wants D, E, or F, we are making decisions based on incomplete information. We are not allowing the customer to complete our understanding of THEIR perspective, THEIR preference, THEIR priorities before we make OUR decisions.

And when we make those assumptions, we put our foot in our mouth, we go down the wrong path, we do for others what they wouldn’t do for themselves (sorry for all the clichés).

To deliver great service, view and treat each individual as unique. Avoid the Error of “Everyone.”

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How to Deal with the Non-Conversational Customer – 4/24/18

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The customer would not say much. He was giving one-word answers when you’re seeking information. It was “like pulling teeth.” Maybe he was shy. Maybe he was ticked off. Maybe it’s just the way he normally speaks.

Regardless of the reason for the lack of dialogue, you need information. You have other customers to serve. You need to make the conversation work.

When you find yourself in a situation with a customer who is basically non-communicative, here are some tips to still hold an effective conversation:

  • Start by asking simple close-ended questions such as “Did you make the purchase in the store or online?” A few close-ended questions create a dialogue and add a little bit of rhythm to the conversation. The conversation starts to flow.
  • Be very appreciative of any response they give. You may reply to their brief response by saying “That helps!” or “Great!” Then go to your next question. You’re creating a positive tone instead of showing any frustration with their brevity.
  • Explain why you’re asking the questions. Oftentimes the hesitation is because they either don’t know why you need the information, or they are making negative assumptions about why you seek the information.
  • Confirm everything back to them. Because the non-conversational types usually don’t give you a lot of information up front, to ensure you understand the full picture, you often have to piece together multiple responses to your multiple questions.

 
The next time you’re in a conversation with someone who is obviously giving you very little to go on, hold back in your frustration. Taken a couple deep breaths, then get into a rhythm, be appreciative, explain why you need the information, and confirm it all back.

Learn how to deal with the non-conversational customer.

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Question without Questioning – 4/11/17

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People great at customer service typically have the skill to artfully and effectively ask questions. By asking questions, you’re showing your interest, gaining control of the conversation, and learning about the specifics of the issue or need so you can tailor your response.

In a past Tip of the Week, I noted that asking questions (done incorrectly) can make it seem like you’re interrogating the customer – firing question after question at the customer.

There’s another risk to be wary of when asking questions of the other person. It’s the risk of the customer feeling like you’re questioning them – their motives, their honesty, their integrity, their intelligence.

You can run this risk primarily based on how your questions are delivered, not necessarily due to the questions themselves. Think body language and tone.

Imagine someone asking you the following question with their arms crossed, rolling their eyes, and emphasizing ‘that’ – “Why did you do that?”

Consider an employee with their eyebrow raised and asking you “So that was an accident?” You can almost feel them making air quotes as they say the word accident.

What if the employee said to you: “So what EX-ACT-LY was the purpose of that?”

When you want to ask the right questions for the right reasons, remember there’s a right way (and a wrong way) to do so. Ensure that your body language and tone don’t keep you from delivering a great experience.

Make sure you question without questioning.

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