time | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24


Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24


There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24


I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24


When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the 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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