time | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

The Miracle of an Apology - 3/19/24


Unfortunate but true story… The manager basically lost his mind.  He terminated his employee on the spot.  She had told the customer that there was going to be a delay in the shipment.  The employee called up the customer ahead of time to let the customer know what was about Read more

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait - 3/12/24


Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax Read more

Lessons from the Greats - 3/5/24


I was recently facilitating a workshop on the customer experience, and I made the point that it’s usually beneficial to look at your personal life for great experiences; identify what really resonates with you in a positive way in order to uncover ideas to improve your own customer service. So, Read more

The Empathy Roadmap - 2/27/24


For some people, empathy comes naturally.  There’s an innate desire to learn about the other person and to sincerely convey that sense of interest and caring.  But for many of us, sometimes it helps to have a communication plan.  It helps to know what to do in order to Read more

“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

Change on the Fly – 5/30/23

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

Situational service requires some advanced engagement skills.  It involves seeing each situation independent of any others, reading the moment, and changing on the fly to create the best possible customer experience and outcomes.  So, what are some keys to situational service?  Keep these guiding principles in mind:

Start Open-minded: When the customer engages you, avoid assumptions about them and their situation.  Don’t let the first impression cloud what might be the deeper issue or need, the background of the situation, the person themselves.  It’s more effective to start by being open, and then narrow the focus after gathering information; it’s less effective to start with a preconceived notion, and then have to later backtrack or restart the conversation.

Gauge the Emotion: While we focus on words, since that conveys much of the specifics of a situation, the emotions can convey how they feel about the issue or need.  Note in their tone and body language, specifically, how they feel so that you can use that information to determine how to handle the situation.

Uncover the Urgency: Determine whether time is a concern, whether that’s in-the-moment or for the final resolution.  That time consideration will help you to understand their feelings better, but it will also help you to understand whether to respond by reiterating timing and next steps, or to focus more on their feelings and solution options.

Adjust to the Situation: The first 3 guiding principles ensure you get the information you need (the facts, their emotions, and time considerations) to handle the situation most effectively.  Now, adjust.  Settle them down first, addressing any anxiety, anger, confusion, or upset with the right technique for the emotion, or move directly to the issue and solutions if the negative emotions aren’t present.  Be patient if they care more about the conversation and the process, or quickly get to the point if there’s urgency involved.

When you’re engaged with the customer, get the facts, gauge the emotions, and clarify times.  Then focus on providing the best service for the situation.

To excel in service, develop your ability to change on the fly.

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Time is of the Essence – 5/16/23

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

Time is precious.  There’s no time like the present.  Your time is valuable.  Timing is everything.  Children spell “love,” T-I-M-E.

There are many great quotes that reference time.  And part of the reason is that time can be considered somewhat finite; at least within the day, it’s a limited resource.  What one person is doing will be just a step toward their next activity, their next conversation, their next trip that day.

So, what are ways that we can be considerate of the customer’s time?

The Schedule

  • Give customers reasonable notice about when something from them is due, or a meeting will occur.
  • Provide options so that if a time won’t work for them, they have alternatives to consider.
  • Immediately let them know of schedule changes or cancellations.

 

The Prep and the Process

  • Prepare going into the meeting so that the conversation is well-planned and can minimize the customer’s time.
  • Start on time. End on time.
  • Focus on the customer entirely during conversations, so that interruptions or unrelated activities don’t waste their time.

 

The Delay

  • Ensure you’re well-trained on a process, so that the process isn’t delayed by lack of comfort, confidence, or knowledge in performing some standard activity.
  • When they’re waiting, let them know the expectation for the wait time, see if there’s something they can be doing so that when the wait is over, they’ve already accomplished some of the next steps. Keep them informed and updated about when the wait will end.
  • If there could be a lengthy delay or some research required, give the customer the option to exit the conversation, and offer to contact them once the research is complete.

 

Your time is valuable, and so is the customer’s time.  Strengthen your strategies to ensure we’re considerate of the customer’s time.

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A Great 2-Minute E-mail – 8/23/22

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

I know.  You probably get e-mails all the time from customers griping about some aspect of your organization or their experience.  You’ve got too much to do and too little time to do it.  I could not begin to tell you how many times I’ve been told by staff and managers in Service Excellence Training that they just have too many emails and voicemails to respond to customers.

That may be the case, and maybe the root cause of all those messages is a bad experience, understaffing, or poor processes and communications.  So, there is a need to get at the root causes to drive down those large numbers of unwanted customer complaints.

But it doesn’t take 30 minutes to send a good e-mail.  It doesn’t even take 10 minutes to craft the perfect response.  In most cases, you can easily create a great e-mail in less than 2 minutes.

The client had been coming to the venue for events for years, and something had changed. Certain gates were closed that had once been open.  Handicap access was different than it had been in the past.  They were a long-time customer, and this change was a frustration.  Here’s the employee’s response:

Hi John,

Thank you for your feedback, and I’m sorry about the difficulties accessing the venue.  I will make note of your concern and see if we can come up with a solution.  

For some background as to why we changed from Gate B to Gate C for the event, our Gate C is closest to the wheelchair ramp.  We wanted to make sure folks have the easiest access to the ramp.  I’m sorry we didn’t communicate about the change well-enough prior to the event.  I’ll follow-up with you prior to the next event with an update.

Thank you again,

Mary

There’s personalization, empathy, apology, commitment to action, explaining why without making excuses, taking ownership, and closing with appreciation and personalization – all in about 100 words…and under 2 minutes.  This is far better than no response, and far better than most e-mails consumers receive these days.

The next time you feel you have too much going on to respond to e-mails, do what’s right and help the customer feel valued.  Try to be great…in under 2 minutes.

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