survey | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

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

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

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

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 at-risk of being lost.

But every individual in an organization can help identify at-risk customers.  Let’s ask some questions: When is a complaint a sign of risk?  When is an issue a sign of risk?  When is a lack of activity a sign of risk?

Defining Risk

By Risk we mean…Risk of losing a customer.  Risk of having many customers having the same complaint or issue that your customer is experiencing.  Risk of customers not using your services, not engaging with your business, finding other ways to get their needs met.

As with most aspects of customer service and retention, frontline staff are often best-positioned to help the organization as a whole.

Finding Organizational Issues

If the complaint is about a highly-used process or some aspect of the product or service, that could be a bigger risk for the whole organization if other customers are using that same process, product, or service.  However, when a complaint is about an individual employee, that actually may not be a sign of risk for the whole company.  Maybe it’s a localized situation.

When the issue being discussed is about organizational communications or tools such as website functionality or inconsistency in information flow or content, that could be a risk to the whole organization.  However, if the issue is some characteristic of a transaction that’s unique to that person, that may have less likelihood to be a risk to the organization.

When the lack of activity is because the organization has not been reaching out to the customer, has not kept their relationship fresh, then that could be a risk to the whole organization.  However, when the lack of activity is due to some change in circumstances in the individual’s life, it may not be a sign of risk for the whole company.

Issues that you see one-on-one with your customer may or may not be symptoms of bigger issues for the whole organization, but it’s helpful to the company for you to occasionally take a step back and consider whether a concern for one customer could also impact the many.

Determine if the customer’s issue is an organizational issue.

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Be Proactive without being Pushy – 9/20/22

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Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us.

But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to sales, and when we think about proactively reaching out, often we think that we’re selling to others – Ick!  However, if we don’t reach out to our clients or customers, we are not fully meeting their needs.

So, if we are not pushing products, why are we proactively reaching out to customers?  Here are some examples of why to reach out.

Freshen: To keep the relationship fresh.  If they haven’t heard from us except when they are buying something or complaining, those quiet periods are when relationships go stale.  It’s when they view us more as a commodity than as a partner.  We need to keep the relationships fresh.

Understand: Reach out to better understand them and their needs or issues.  This can be via an informal survey; maybe as part of a conversation, you ask about how things are changing in their business or their lives.  You’re trying to learn from them to better serve them.

Match-make: You reach out because you have a base understanding of their needs, and your organization has something that might help them, in particular.  You’re trying to match who they are with what you can do for them.  In some ways, we’re doing them a disservice if the customer has to go to your company for one thing and 3 other companies for other services – all of which you provide – but they don’t know that because we haven’t informed or educated them on all you can do for the customer.

Thank: You proactively reach out to convey appreciation and show that you value them.  You literally reach out to say Thank You and to check-in on them.  It makes them feel like an individual instead of an account number.

Request: You can even reach out to simply ask them if they know of anyone who might be a good fit with your business, who might benefit from a relationship like your customer has with your company.  You’re not selling; you’re just giving them the opportunity to make a connection for a friend with you and your organization.

Great customer service includes reaching out to customers – be proactive without being pushy.

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Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t – 9/13/22

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

I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, comments were often worded like this:

“The customers seemed to have a good time at the event, but they were griping and complaining when they arrived because of the parking issues.”

“They enjoyed the event, but a lot of fans had difficulty with mobile ticketing and couldn’t see the screens because of the bright sun.”

“They enjoyed the entertainment, but many complained about the heat and lack of shade.”

“Overall, customers had a good time, but the guests complained that the food ran out too soon.”

So overall, the entertainment was great, but the employees were fielding lots of complaints and dealing with lots of issues relating to processes, technology, concessions, or other issues.

Not only were the employees having to deal with difficult processes and address complaints, but the frustrations of these guests were being transferred to the employees.  The employees had more work to do because of these issues, and they themselves became frustrated and upset just like the guests.

As an employee, what can you do when you’re getting hammered by process and experiential complaints even though you might be doing a great job?

First, be clear to yourself that the complaint about these items is not a complaint about you.  Understand that truth, and by taking things less personally, it’s easier to control your emotions.

Second, focus on listening, and provide a little empathy.  Don’t feel like you have to counter every complaint with a comeback.  If you focus on listening and understanding, it takes away the burden of your having to respond to every criticism or always saying the right thing.  In these situations, sometimes the less you can say, the better it is for all parties.

Finally, help the company to improve.  Very few organizations are good at tapping into the voice of the employee to seek the voice of the customer like our client has done through this research.  If you’re not asked to share customer feedback, proactively find ways to share those common themes – those common positives and concerns that you’re hearing from customers – with leaders on your work team.

Be kind to yourself even when the customer isn’t being so kind.

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