root cause | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

A Complaint is a Gift - 5/7/24


A complaint is a gift.  Okay, so the complainer is not always a “gift.”  The customer’s delivery of the complaint is sometimes more like a stocking filled with coal than a vase filled with roses.  But this is why we need to be able to differentiate the complaint from Read more

Mastering Confidence in Customer Service - 4/30/24


It’s not what you said…it’s how you said it. If you’ve ever had someone say this to you, raise your hand.  (I just raised my hand) Usually this is being said when someone is upset with you, but regardless of the reason, that phrase illustrates that HOW we say something often Read more

Be Amazing - 4/23/24


Watching Michael Jordan steal a pass and then dunk a basketball is amazing.  Taking a rocket to the moon is amazing.  The taste of my mom’s homemade beef soup is amazing. We all have our personal examples of what is amazing.  Usually, it’s something that we cannot comprehend, that we Read more

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help 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.

Did you like this post? Here are other Government-related posts:


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.

Did you like this post? Here are other Healthcare-related posts:


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/

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