research | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

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

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

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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Increase Research for Improved Customer Relations During COVID-19

Posted on in Business Advice Please leave a comment

What makes a relationship? Many actions can make or break a relationship, but all solid relationships require at least two things: Communication and Caring. And customer relationships are no different in this respect.

No Communication = No Connection

If we don’t have some frequency of dialogue with the customer, then we not only are not top-of-mind, but we’re not even “bottom-of-mind.” We are not in the mind. They don’t think of us, they don’t consider us because the relationship has gone stale.

Now caring is in the eye of the beholder. How one person defines whether they are cared for by the other may differ from individual to individual. But if we put things in the context of the customer relationship, there are some more consistent realities. Communicating with the customer just to sell isn’t relationship-building. A lack of communication isn’t relationship-building.

What Caring for the Customer Requires

Caring requires that people feel like they’re viewed as an individual – that we value them. It requires that we usually listen more than talk. It means that we try to understand their issues, needs, and goals, and – if they want more than the listening ear – we address those issues, needs, and goals.

So much of what I just described suggests that we can – and MUST – improve customer relations through research, and CSS is conducting a great deal of research in this COVID-19 environment because our clients understand this truth.

Customer research done correctly involves a company asking a customer a question. It involves the company seeking information from the customer, ultimately for the customer. Sometimes, well-designed research instruments convey caring for the customer and valuing of the customer just by how the tools are worded and what questions are asked.

Design with the Customer in Mind

What do you need to know about the customer to help them? What do you need to learn about them to best serve them? How do you identify their priorities, their issues, their concerns, their perceptions, their preferences? And how do you construct these questions in such a way that you convey that you care? We’re talking about research, and we’re not necessarily saying it’s purely web-based surveys. This can include one-on-one interviews, phone follow-up from account representatives, or check-in calls from staff. This could include informal e-mail requests, or it could include facilitated ZOOM focus groups.

Whatever it is, do enough of it to know enough about as many of your customers as possible to help them. If you professionally design with the conveying that you care in mind, you will improve customer relations.