service recovery | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 9

“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

With Customer Complaints, Forewarned is Forearmed – 2/16/16 TOW

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


Sound ominous?

It’s not meant to be ominous as much as this old saying is a cautionary tale to multitudes of people in life, especially those of us in customer service.

This saying implies that if we know something is going to happen, then we should be prepared. So how do we get “Forewarned” about customer complaints?

Think about the early warning signs of a complaint. Is the website down? Are callers holding a long time (or longer than normal) before they get to you? Is your company’s call volume up? Is the facility having issues (too cold, too hot, smells)? Has this customer complained before? If the customer’s in front of you, does their body language or facial expression denote they’re about to detonate?

There are ways to become aware that the conflict is imminent.

But what does it mean to be “prepared?” After all, awareness does not equate to preparedness. How do we get “Forearmed” in our customer service world?

Know the Company – Clearly understand policies and procedures for serving customers, service recovery processes, and authority you have to fix a problem or compensate a customer.

Know the Customer – Access client information on their past purchases, service calls, and complaints. Know what causes the issues, how they reacted, how your company responded, and how issues were best rectified.

Know Yourself – Know the right questions to ask; be aware of what triggers your emotions in these tough situations, and bring in your best attitude of patience, empathy, and responsiveness, as well as your mindset as a solution-provider.

We can’t anticipate every customer complaint, but if we can increase our awareness of the triggers of complaints and improve our preparations for the encounters, we can handle them more effectively and more quickly.

Forewarned is Forearmed.

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Not So Fast with Quick Issue Resolution – 11/4/14 TOW

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The technique we suggest to our clients for dealing with the irate customer is easily taught but not easily perfected. It involves listening, empathizing, accepting responsibility, and delivering on a remedy. We’ve taught literally thousands of Service Excellence training participants how to use this highly effective technique, but many employees have trouble executing it well.

When observing staff role-playing the technique in their small groups, there are reasons why it sometimes doesn’t work – the employee’s tone doesn’t sound sincerely empathetic. The employee makes no eye contact. The employee doesn’t ask questions about the specifics of the issue. Maybe the employee gets defensive.

But the biggest pitfall stems from the fact that most employees want to get out of these conversations fast. There are two typically reasons for this desire for speed: (1) Employees are uncomfortable dealing with angry customers, so they quickly want to remove themselves from the situation, and (2) Employees sincerely believe that quick resolution is what the customer wants – which typically is true.

The biggest pitfall is an employee’s lack of patience.

Whether the employee is trying to extricate themselves from the conversation or help the customer get that quick resolution, the most frequent drawback in taking those perspectives is that they try to navigate the conversation too quickly. They’re not patient. They talk fast. They don’t give the customer enough time to vent. They quickly go to a solution without learning the facts. They interrupt the customer. They say “I’m sorry” so early on and so quickly that the sincerity is lost. They try to end the conversation before they allow the customer to drop the emotions. They try to take control with speed rather than take control with well-worded questions.

Quick resolution is a noble goal, but the best way to get there involves listening, empathizing, and being patient enough to ask the right questions so you can present the right solution. Speeding to an end rarely ends well.

Summon all your patience when presented with a service recovery situation.

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Relieve their Pain – 9/16/14 TOW

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I’ve been in some meetings with sales professionals where they describe the need to “find the prospect’s pain point.” Once you find their source of pain, then you can suggest a product the prospect can buy or a service they can sign-up for that will alleviate the pain.

In customer service, we view pain differently. True, it’s often that we also seek the point of pain, but we’re not trying to acquire the new customer. We have the customer. We want to keep them, and usually the pain that the customer is feeling is pain that our organization has somehow inflicted. So instead of the sales focus of getting the customer to take action, in customer service, we’re usually the ones to take action for the customer.

It’s a different approach and a different action for a different result.

For customer service, we have to identify their pain. We then implement a remedy in order to keep them for the long-term.

Before we can keep them for the long-term, however, we have to do two things. First, identify their pain. This is where the organization needs the research strategy that answers key questions such as “What is your biggest frustration?” or “What one thing could we do to make this a great experience?” or “What matters most to you when you determine whether to return or recommend our company to others?”

At the same time, every employee needs the habit for seeking the customer’s opinion, since by far the most opportunities for customer feedback are found in those daily Moments of Truth. Employees need to get in the habit of asking “How was your experience today?” or “Did you get your question answered?” or “Is there anything we can do to better serve you?”

From corporate strategy to employee habits, there needs to be a common focus on asking the customer about their experience.

To keep customers for the long-term and relieve their pain, from company-to-employee, first seek the customer’s opinion.

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