research | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“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

G.A.B. – The Survey Guiding Principles – 3/28/23

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

You’re excited!  The company has okayed your conducting a survey, and you immediately think of a half dozen questions you want to ask every customer.  You document your questions, get input from others, and all of a sudden you have a Word document with 36 questions instead of 6.  Now, what do you do?

Some clients engage us before they get into the particulars of the survey instrument.  Other clients come to us after they’ve already created that 36 question survey.  In either case, before you dive into the details of the survey questions, here are 3 Guiding Principles that could govern your decision-making about the overall design of the survey:

Goal-driven – Make sure that the questions are addressing your overall goals for the research.  The goals should drive what information you seek, which should drive the structure of the survey and the wording of the questions – it shouldn’t be the other way around.  Create the survey instrument around your goals, and when you have that draft put together, make sure each question aligns with what you’re trying to accomplish.

Actionable – For each question, give consideration to what would be done with the information.  Could you act upon the results?  What will the metrics potentially tell you? Are you evaluating attributes against each other, against historical data, against national benchmarks?  And how are you going to act differently based on ratings?  For the open-ended questions, are you going to utilize the common themes to improve operations, change strategies, reward and recognize others?  If the question is not actionable, why would you even ask?

Balanced – Ensure that there is a relatively even mix of questions seeking positives as well as questions seeking opportunities for improvement.  This is something that few of our clients consider.  Some clients are primarily looking for constructive feedback – and the tone of the survey can get the customer thinking too negatively and elicit too many negative stories.  Others are looking just for positives to use to market themselves internally or make themselves look good.  Instead, the survey should be balanced.  Research should help you to identify what is not working well while also helping understand where you can strengthen your strengths.

Let the goals of the survey drive the focus of the questions.  Ensure that the questions are structured to be actionable.  Create an overall balance of identifying what could be better as well as knowing what already is providing a great customer experience.

Design your survey to align to the G.A.B. Guiding Principles.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go? – 2/23/21

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Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times.

A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to maintain their existing customer base.  Even after almost one year of dealing with COVID-19, that concern continues – understandably so.

Customers are the life of any business, so sustainability and growth as an organization depends largely on retention and growth of the customer base.  Since the question I’m highlighting from the Business Journal study focused on existing customers, let’s talk about your current base of clients.

For you to maintain your existing customer base – before developing strategies or launching some major personalized reach-out campaign – let’s pause.  Let’s first determine what information we don’t know, and then let’s ask our existing customers to supply us with the information we need to keep them!

Retention:  Why did our customers begin working with our companies?  What about our products, our services, our people brings them the most value?  Why do they stay with us?  Why would they leave?

Growth:  Are they aware of our array of products and services – especially those that they don’t currently use?  Do they know about new customer processes or technology, policies or perks that could benefit them?  Are they aware of special values, resources, or unique opportunities available to them as existing customers?

Future Plans:  How likely are they to stay with us, to purchase more, to want to upgrade what they get from us?  How likely are they to look elsewhere for our types of services, and who else is competing for their interest or their dollar?

Every day, our customers are asking themselves whether they should stay or go.  Let’s make sure we’re asking them the questions so that we have the answers we need to keep them for the long-term.

Get customers to tell you why they would stay.

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Let Your Goal Determine Your Question – 2/2/21

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

In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer.

During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing strategies” that developed were really a repackaging of customer relationship development and client retention and growth initiatives.

Fast forward to today, and largely due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the economy is taking a hit again.  Companies are trying to determine how to change their customer experience, but they – again – are having to retain the customers they have as they hope to navigate through these waters and be positioned for continued success down the road.

One consistent response to these economic downturns is that companies have refocused on the importance of listening to the customer.

When you listen to the Voice of the Customer, oftentimes that voice is being shared in response to your questions.  These might be questions when you’re dealing with a customer issue, but let’s think a little bit more strategically – consider the customer voice you hear through your research.  You may have questions that you typically ask in a customer survey or in a focus group, but try to avoid the typical.  Instead, let your goal determine your question.

For example, if an organizational goal is to retain customers, ask why they became a customer in the first place, what keeps them with your business, why they would consider leaving.

If your goal is growth with existing customers, ask them about their needs.  If those needs are not being met by your company, ask them how those needs are being addressed.  Inquire about their awareness of your other products and services.

If you want to differentiate your business by having an exceptional customer experience, ask customers how your experience compares to others.  Ask how they would define a “great customer experience.”  Ask them to give you an example of an organization or a situation that provided an exceptional experience.

In times like these, most organizations are holding on to customers as tight as they can, and most discerning customers realize that fact.

When you’re considering tapping into the Voice of the Customer to learn how to strengthen that relationship, discuss organizational goals before you ever discuss what research questions to ask customers.

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