tone | 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

Fight Fret with Reassurance – 6/27/23

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

I bought tickets for this weekend’s event, but they’re not showing up on my app.  I was told we could request a refund, but I don’t see a way to do that online.  I need this fixed by tomorrow.  The information on my bill is wrong, and it says it’s due next week.

The customer is confused or anxious or upset.  There’s an urgency, or there’s a misunderstanding.  The emotions are not positive, and the answer may not be immediately clear.

We need to seek details.  We need to determine alternatives.  But we also need…to reassure.

To reassure is to calm down.  It is to build confidence.  It is to alleviate fears.

If the customer is calm, if they have confidence in a resolution, if they have faith in you instead of fears in the situation, the conversation can end more quickly.  The odds of them wanting to talk to your manager diminish.  The likelihood they’ll question what you say or answer-shop decreases.

So, reassure.  Let them know that you can help, how you can help, how you’ve helped others.  Talk in ways that convey your understanding of them and their situation, your understanding of solutions, next steps, and timelines.  Use the phrases like “we will help you,” and avoid phrases like “I think we can address this.”  Convey your experience, resources, and tools.

The facts and the details of the issue and solution are important to address when the customer is worried.  But it helps to provide reassurance, as well.  It helps to speak with authority and to use words that convey more certainty of actions rather than uncertainty of next steps.  Convey your confidence to build their confidence.  

When the customer frets, provide reassurance.

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Be the Good Doctor – 6/20/23

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

Ginny liked the interaction with her doctor.  She enjoyed chatting with him.  Ginny was a grandma, had been dealing with doctors all her life, and some of the interactions and experiences were better than others.

Was this doctor experienced?  Yes.  Was he intelligent?  Yes.  Was he knowledgeable of what she was going through and the potential remedies?  Again, yes.

So, when Ginny talked about why she liked the doctor so much, she could have described those different attributes.  Instead, she described his openness as the reason she enjoyed him so much.  He was as willing to convey what he didn’t yet know as well as what he did know.  He was willing to ask questions to learn more.  He was willing to listen to what Ginny said.

Your customers are often in a similar situation to Ginny when they’re dealing with you.  You are like the doctor.  Compared to the customer, you’re far more knowledgeable about issues, symptoms of problems, remedies.  You’re much more knowledgeable about the options and the pros and cons of each.  You have a lot more experience in dealing with particular situations, as well.

But oftentimes when customers appreciate you, only part of the appreciation results from the quality of the information and guidance you provide.  The rest of what may cause them to appreciate you is how open you are to ask questions, how open you are to admit what you don’t know and what additional information you need.  They may appreciate you because of your willingness to listen and be patient with them, even though you’re 95% certain that you know the best course of action in their situation.

The next time you’re working with a customer and trying to determine the best way to address their issue or goal, convey the openness of Ginny’s physician.

Be the Good Doctor.

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Trust-building in the Moment – 6/13/23

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

The customer is often the ultimate supplier of the information we need to help them.  So, we want customers to be open with us, to share their feelings, goals, issues, perceptions.

Building trust is a long-term enterprise, but many of us don’t have much time with the customer.  However, we still need the customers to be open enough to share with us so that we can be most effective in helping them.  Here are some keys to building trust in those short but important moments of truth…

Speak to what they’ve said.  The most important action is listening – asking the questions to get the information we need.  Most of the keys below are about what we say or what we convey, but it all starts with what we hear.

Speak with intent.  We need to be intentional about what we say.  Tossing in unclear words or commitments, having a tone that lacks confidence, making promises or sharing stories that don’t relate to what the customer conveyed can cause the customer to lose our main point.  It can cause them to think they haven’t been heard; they can lose confidence and trust.

Note what you can do by illustrating what you have done.  For customers to have faith that we can help, tell them what we can do, but it strengthens the story to tell them what we have done with others.  If we can illustrate a potential resolution that will be done for them by noting similar action taken for somebody else, it helps to build their trust and confidence.

Be open to engender openness.  If we want them to be open, we need to be open.  It’s hard to get somebody to share if they don’t feel like we’re willing to do likewise.  So, if you have questions that you need answered on their behalf, tell them that you need to investigate.  If you’re not 100% certain of the best option, tell them, and also let them know what you’re going to do to close that confidence gap.

Do what you said you will do.  Finally, so many of us judge trust based on whether or not the person did what they said they’d do.  This requires three things.  First, be clear with them on what we promised. This may include sending them follow-up messages to reinforce what we have verbally stated.  Second – obviously – do what we said we would do.  Third, tell them what we did.  Action is only as strong as the customer’s recognition that the action we promised actually occurred.

Tap into these 5 keys to build trust in that moment of truth.

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