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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

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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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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