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How to Fix Other People’s Problems - 1/31/23


I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone - let’s call her Katie. There had been poor communication between different Read more

What to do When You’re in the Middle - 1/24/23


Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being Read more

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? - 1/17/23


Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most Read more

Decide Who’s Driving the Bus - 1/10/23


I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus? I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a Read more

Redefine “Access” to Treat Customers Special - 11/29/22


One of our clients puts on major events throughout the country.  When we conduct post-event surveys, many of the attendees rave about the access they had to certain entertainers, locations in the venue, parking lots, or even information.  Others decry the fact that they lacked that access. This does pose Read more

Keep in Mind 3 Key Questions – 11/22/22

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

Customers want to be heard.  If they have an issue or need or something that requires your support, they want to be understood.

When we are trying to find a resolution or fulfill a need, when we’re trying to help a customer achieve their goal, sometimes we can be so immersed in the details of the situation that we lose sight of the big picture. Other times, we can be so focused on our policies or our procedures, our products or protocols, that we’re not truly seeing this from the customer’s perspective.  And in this day and age, sometimes we’re just so busy that we don’t have the time or patience or inclination the handle the situation correctly.

To simplify things for ourselves and increase the opportunity for success for the customer, when you have the responsibility to support the customer in addressing their issue, need, or goal, keep in mind 3 Key Questions:

What’s their STORY?

Ask about their situation.  Try to understand a little bit about who they are as a person and the lens through which they’re viewing what’s going on.  Note where they’re coming from so that you know the starting point from where you can lead them.

What’s their GOAL?

Sometimes the customers are really good at giving us the game plan for how they want us to fix their situation, but often their game plans won’t work.  There’s some policy or time constraint or procedure or approach in their plan that will not work.  So, put yourself in the role of being the solution-provider – understand their goal.  And once you understand, keep this goal at the forefront of the remainder of the conversation.

What’s their PATH?

This is where you, as the expert, truly become the solution-provider.  You know their story…so you can empathize.  You know their goal…so you understand the desired outcome.  Now, you can map out a path for getting from their point A to the desired point B, and you can describe that path based on your understanding of the individual in front of you in the story they have told.

When you are helping somebody out of a bad situation or getting a need addressed, when you’re dealing with somebody who has a certain goal and they don’t know how to get there, simplify things for yourself.  Keep 3 Key Questions top-of-mind to help you navigate the conversation.

What’s their Story?  What’s their Goal?  What’s their Path?

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“I’m Sorry” Doesn’t Mean “I’m Guilty” – 12/14/21

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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 never got a call.  A salesperson promised what the company could do; the team that had to deliver the service could not meet the unrealistic expectations set by the salesperson.

In every situation, employees attempted to find an alternative solution. In not one case did anybody say “I’m sorry.”

That omission bugged me, and it took me a minute to figure out why.  Then it was clear – they looked for the solution without ever acknowledging the situation that caused the need for the solution.

None of these organizations acknowledged they’d done something wrong.  In not one of these cases did the person resolving the issue cause the issue, so maybe they didn’t want to admit guilt.

In situations like this, however, saying “I’m sorry” is not an admission of personal guilt.  It’s showing organizational accountability.  While I understand people don’t want to admit guilt (especially if they’re not “guilty” of anything), they could still say “on behalf of the organization, I apologize.”  By saying that, they’re not accepting personal responsibility, but they’re acknowledging that the organization caused the problem.

Some people won’t say “I’m sorry” because they feel it’s a sign of weakness.  But we shouldn’t view service recovery situations as battles where one person wins and the other loses.  Instead, we should look at it as an opportunity to save a relationship, to help a customer, to serve others, to retain their business.

It’s not a sign of weakness to admit fault.  It’s a sign of strength and humility to acknowledge an issue.

When your co-worker or your organization makes a mistake with a customer, make an apology a part of your response.

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Employee Runs for a Dog Run – 3/12/19

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I was never a Boy Scout. I mean in the literal sense, but also somewhat in the figurative sense, but I digress. After years of telling myself that I needed something to help my dog get exercise outside without worrying about him trying to dig under a fence and escape, a friend gave me the idea of creating a dog run.

Essentially, you tie a wire between 2 trees, and then you hook a long leash to the wire so that the dog can run around out back even if you’re not out with him so that you won’t worry about him running off.

The more YouTube videos I watched, the more excited I got about the prospect of creating a dog run. Also, the more YouTube videos I watched, the more clear it became that I never learned how to tie a good knot like I would have if I had been a Boy Scout.

So, I went to the local hardware store and decided to claim my own ignorance. I laid out my plan to an employee, and the gentlemen listened to me, he helped me to concoct an approach to constructing the dog run. Piece by piece, we discussed the wire, the long leash, how to secure the wire to the tree in a way that wouldn’t hurt the tree, etc.

He was patient, seemed interested, and gave me multiple options to consider. It was a huge help, I thanked him, and I walked away toward another section of the store to look for one other item I needed before checking out.

About 2 minutes later, on the exact opposite side of the store, the employee came running toward me. After I had left his section, he had continued to give my project some thought, and he realized that I needed a hook not only for what would attach the long leash to the wire but also one that would attach the other end of the long leash to my dog’s collar. That would’ve been a pretty frustrating project if I had set everything up perfectly but had no way to attach the lease to my dog’s collar – YIKES!

I went to the hardware store knowing what I wanted to accomplish, and I was engaged by an employee who seemed interested in my project, gave me options, and actually ran after me to ensure I had everything I needed.

Sometimes it’s nice just to be able to tell a good customer service story.

Be that employee willing to run after a customer to give them some extra help.

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