story | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“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

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

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

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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