root cause | 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

Culture can be the Root of City Government Service Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 9-4-14In too many local municipalities, when the call volume increases for the contact center, you simply hire more staff. When loud complaints arise, politicians make speeches echoing the community’s concerns. When the pipes burst, you create a laundry list of solutions without first identifying the root cause.

That last example of reaction in local government happened in Winnipeg recently. According to the article Customer service at Winnipeg city hall should be a priority for our new mayor, last winter’s occurrence of bursting pipes for local residents required reorganizing their 311 call center, better dealing with their infrastructure, and realizing that some things are just natural disasters.

But according to the article’s author, what really made the problem so exceptionally bad were factors including “The city failed to identify the problem soon enough, failed to notify homeowners about what they could do to prevent freezing, failed to acquire enough equipment and manpower to thaw pipes, and failed to provide affected homeowners with the help they needed in a timely manner.”

These are issues of lack of measurement, lack of proactive communication, lack of community education, lack of long-term planning/thinking, and lack of responsiveness. In short, it was poor customer service and a lack of a customer-focused culture. Our company has seen often with our clients (in public and private sectors) issues become far worse than necessary. The issues were difficult enough to address, but the reaction to the issue often exacerbates the problem. Organizations that don’t understand how to create an aligned culture focused on service and responsiveness get caught when the issues arise.

They don’t anticipate. They don’t empathize. They don’t react well or quickly. They don’t communicate proactively. They don’t succeed.

Sometimes great “PR” for a local government is not just about having an excellent communications department. Sometimes great PR is a direct result of a culture that’s great in the 1-on-1 Moments of Truth with their residents.

When seeking to improve relationships with the community, local city and county governments first need to ensure their culture is designed to succeed.

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Getting at the Root of Patient Satisfaction Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

When a patient shares with her doctor that she has a sore throat, he begins asking questions to learn more about the soreness – this symptom with a deeper root cause. When a patient goes to the Emergency Room with chest pain, staff run tests to determine the cause – to address the symptom and determine a course of action based on the cause.

When patients present ailments, injuries, aches and pains, medical professionals look to not only address the symptom, but they also want to get at the root cause. Resolve the root cause, and the symptoms go away.

In Roach: Patient Satisfaction Crucial To Hospitals’ Success, soon-to-be hospital CEO Steven Roach addresses the need to improve patient satisfaction. But he’s not talking about conducting Disney training and implementing valet parking. He’s talking about the fact that many patients either visit the facility to get treated in the Emergency Department and discharged, or they are inpatients who were admitted through the E.D. Since the E.D. is experienced by so many, it not only has a huge impact on the patient’s perceptions, but it also impacts patient waits, work flow, productivity, and hospital financials.

And along with addressing the E.D. experience, Roach takes the next step – looking at root causes. Many E.D. issues with wait times and delays are the result of demand for services that should be provided elsewhere – out of the hospital setting and often by primary care doctors. This is what we call “Demand Management.” Instead of ONLY asking “How do we handle the volume we receive?” ask “How do we reduce the volume we receive?”

If your hospital or organization has process and wait time issues, you can bring in management consultants and process experts to do workflow redesign, but also think about what’s driving that demand, and find ways to redirect or reduce demand for high cost services.

Move from the symptom to the true root cause.

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City Gets at the Root of Water Shut-off Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

“If they would just read their mail…”

This is a statement I hear from a lot of clients when talking about their customers (oftentimes, it’s “if they would just read their e-mails…”). The problem with the statement is that it can put the entire blame for an issue on the customer, when businesses need to be asking “What can we control? What can we impact?”

Staff at the City of Marysville were having an issue. The number of water shutoffs was increasing each week – up to 80-100 from half that number. This was driving more work for the staff and obviously irate feelings from City residents. The City initially blamed the economy and an auto-dialer notification system that didn’t work with cell phones, but that was just a theory. And to more permanently fix a problem, you need to determine the root cause.

To get at the root cause, they asked the customers about the issue. Customers thought they hadn’t received the bill even though they had received it. The problem was that the bill looked just like any other document – non-descript. The shut-off warnings were also non-descript. So how do you remedy this? An article on the story notes “The UB Team discussed several options to remedy this, and eventually settled on a cycle of three bills in different colors during the standard bi-monthly billing period: first a white notice, followed by a pink late notice for past due, then a yellow shutoff notice that warned that water would be shut off if payment wasn’t completed or arrangements made with the Utility Billing Department.”

The number of shut-offs now average under 30 per month.

When you have an issue, don’t assume the root cause and solution. Don’t immediately blame the customer, even if you communicated to them. The question is – did they notice, understand, and act on the communication? If not, what’s within your control to improve communications?

You can’t control the customer; but don’t use that as an excuse for not looking at your own options for improvement.

Interested in improving your organization’s customer service? See our other blog posts at: http://serviceadvice.cssamerica.com/category/government/

Learn about our CSS Government services at: http://cssamerica.com/cssgovt.htm