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“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

Help Me Help You – 7/4/23

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

With all due respect to the movie Jerry Maguire, this tip is not about the life of agents for professional athletes.  It’s about customer service and what it really means to help.

We’ve seen employees wear badges that say “Ask me. I am happy to help!” or “May I help you?” or “How can we help you today?”

But what are we signing up for when we ask these questions or make these statements?  Although the badge conveys our willingness to help and solicits questions from customers, what are we offering to do?

We are offering to provide information, to share our knowledge, to understand their unique needs and guide them toward the right solution.  These actions require a desire to take action on the customer’s behalf, a willingness on our part to continually learn about our role, our services, our organization, and the ability to ask the right questions, matching the need with a solution.

We are offering to overcome obstacles or eliminate roadblocks.  We are there to help them move to a next step or get through their day in a positive way.  We are there to find pathways to Yes rather than roadblocks of No’s.  These actions require a desire to address problems, to think through processes from the customer’s perspective, and to be pleasant in our engagement with others.

Being helpful may seem like a simple concept, but to truly help others, we need to have the desires, the willingness, the knowledge, and the ability to have a positive influence on those that we come in contact with each day.

Make sure that you’re equipped to truly help the customer today.

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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

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


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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