relationship | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service - 8/30/22


Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others. The Good… Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff Read more

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss - 8/16/22


“I want to talk to your supervisor.” That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody Read more

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But Read more

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

When You Know More Than They Do - 7/19/22


It was 95 degrees outside.  That’s not too bad when you’re inside and enjoying the air conditioning; but when Rachel’s A/C went out, in came Rachel’s worry.  Luckily, she knew the company to call, and a technician from Acme HVAC (fake name, real company) came out the next morning. Rachel Read more

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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Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships – 1/5/21

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I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just as big a gift when they reach out to me for those same purposes.

There is no recipe for how to maintain business relationships over long periods of time.  If there was one, I’m sure Google or Microsoft would have branded it by now and made their bajillion’s.  There’s no recipe because every individual is different, every organization is different, every dynamic between two people is a little bit different.  And although there is no one recipe, there are a few guiding principles that I go by that I thought I’d share with you as you continue to maintain and develop your own relationships in the working world:

  • Think and act in a long-term manner. A relationship is a long-term thing.  It’s not a transaction.  Knowing that forces me to think and interact in a way that conveys I have the other person’s long-term best interest at heart.  That might mean giving them advice and guidance that results in CSS not getting a contract in the near-term, and that is absolutely fine.  It’s about what’s best for them long-term, not what’s best for CSS.
  • Be appreciative of others. Other people make decisions all the time about whether or not to work with us or whether or not to respond to my messages.  I appreciate the consideration and the responses.  The proverbial attitude of gratitude is a real thing; appreciate others because they are unique and special.
  • Treat EVERYBODY with respect. That means everybody I engage with or run into – I just try to make respect an all-the-time kind of thing.  I really work hard to treat others with undivided attention, like they are the most important person in the world to me.  And usually, in that moment, they are the most important person in the world to me.
  • Build Trust. I conducted a team-building workshop for an Executive Team, and I had them write 3 things that others do that helps them to trust the other person, and write 3 things that others do that makes the individual not trust others.  The variation in responses was amazing.  “Build Trust” may be the hardest principle of all because trust-building/breaking can be defined differently by different people.  To build trust, If somebody tells me something in confidence, I keep it to myself.  If I say I’m going to do something by a certain time, I do it.  If I can’t do it or not within the timeline, I let them know.

 

Now, as a disclaimer, I’m not perfect at these guiding principles.  I mess up, but I’ve found that if I’ve worked to establish a relationship, the other person will give me some grace.

Keep in mind that I’m not naturally the most extroverted or gregarious person in the world.  I’m not a relationship savant.  So, I have to work at relationships.  I have to think about it.  I have to have principles and apply them over and over again.

Use these principles and those that align to your values to make 2021 the year of building relationships.

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