relationship | 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

Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection – 9/27/22

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

Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like it’s someone they’ve known for years.

But for most of us, it’s not a talent or quality we were born with; it’s something that we need to work on, and in customer service there’s a lot of benefits to being able to establish rapport and begin to develop a relationship.

It could be a new customer that you’re wanting to provide a great experience to and lay the groundwork for a long-term relationship.  Maybe it’s an existing customer that’s coming in a little irate, griping a little bit, who’s a little bit upset. One way to take away some of the emotion and disarm them is to find some common ground so it doesn’t seem so adversarial.

There are ways to communicate that foster these connections, and we’re going to address some topics you can discuss in a 2-Part series.  For this week, Part 1 of our focus on the topics that create these connections is About Them and You:

About Them and You

Noted below are 3 categories of connection points that are more about the people involved – you and the customer.

Background – Where were they born or grew up?  Where have they lived in the past or currently reside?  What type of work have they done or do they do today, and in what industries?  What types of organizations or initiatives have they been a part of over the years?

Experiences – What are their hobbies?  What do they like to do to relax or stay active?  Where have they vacationed, what are their interests, and what are their leisure activities?

Friends/Relatives – Are they a parent?  Do they have siblings or friends with whom they do things?  Do they live near family, or are they traveling to visit?  Are they a pet lover?

If you uncover some of these points, you may find some things that you can relate to about the other person, and they can relate to you a little bit better, as well.  By either asking the questions directly when appropriate or just doing an exceptionally good job at listening to the details of what they share, you can establish that rapport.

Find some Personal Connection Points.

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Avoid the Silence; Build the Relationship – 10/5/21

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

Our interactions with customers are “Moments of Truth.”  These Moments of Truth can be conversations with a customer about some complaint, encounters when they’re in the drive-thru, questions about an order that the customer calls in to the company, or brief interactions in the lobby of a government building.

Sometimes during these interactions, there are waits. At the fast-food restaurant, the employee at the window is waiting for the food to be prepared.  In the building lobby, the customer is waiting for the employee to finish paperwork with the previous customer.  With the customer calling in about the product they ordered, the wait could be the time it takes for the employee to conduct the research so that they can give the customer the answer.

During these Moments of Truth, the employees are often waiting or doing an activity while the customer is present.  Yet, too many employees only communicate with the customer when they need information or they’re wanting to convey information.

So mostly, there’s dead silence.

From the customer’s perspective, silence can mean that there’s an issue, that the employee has forgotten the customer, that staff don’t care.  And that just makes the wait feel longer, and the customer’s emotions can more easily go negative.

Employees need to view these periods of silence as relationship building opportunities.  While the research is being done or the wait is underway, the employee can simply say nothing and create a cold, impersonal experience for the customer, or the employee could engage the customer. During the wait, the employee could talk to the customer about their situation or describe what is being done. The employee could use these times of waiting and research to build relationships.

The next time you’re with the customer and the conversation stalls during a wait or some other activity that is going on, use that time to keep the communication going to build your organization’s relationship with the customer.

View waits as opportunities to build relationships.

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Find One Unique Thing – 3/2/21

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

Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer – very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual.

And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, we can still establish a pleasant and professional rapport.  We want them to feel like we care, and one way we can do that is to uncover something unique about that person.

Use Your Customer Database

Some of us are fortunate that we have customer databases that may tell us a little bit about the individual.  In sports, you may see that this NASCAR fan loves Chase Elliott.  That’s something unique to talk about with that customer.  In banking, you might look on the system and note that they’re a relatively new customer.  That’s an opportunity to thank them for their business and welcome them again.

No Database? No Problem.

But even if you don’t have that customer database, there are ways to quickly uncover something unique about the individual so you can establish a rapport.  Recently, I heard a dog barking in the background during a client call, so I asked the other person about their dog, and we chatted about our pets.  I was on a video call, and there was a wrestling belt in the background behind them on a shelf.  So, I asked them about the belt and learned about a particular award they won at their company.  Those conversations not only showed my interest in them, but they became a lot more positive and fun for me, too!

In government, when you’re talking with a local resident, ask what city or town they live in, and if you’ve never been there, ask them to describe the area.  If you’re providing service in someone’s home, if you see a nice piece of art or photo or piece of furniture, don’t just notice it – compliment it!

It doesn’t have to be much.  Identifying or bringing up something unique doesn’t have to be a Broadway production – some big formal theatrical unveiling of some unique pearl of knowledge.

Just Find One Thing

But identifying that one unique thing is important – it helps them to no longer feel like the number, no longer feel rushed or feel like a transaction.  They now feel like you see them as the unique individual they are, and that little effort on your part to establish a rapport makes a big difference in the feeling they take away from the conversation.  And in the long run, it makes a big difference in their perception of your organization.

The next time talking with a customer, find out one unique thing about them.

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