research | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24


Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24


There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24


I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24


When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the 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

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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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