value | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

WOW with Welcoming - 6/6/23

Individuals, organizations, and even communities today seem to be more overtly focused on being welcoming to others.  In customer service, being welcoming is a key to a great first impression.  But what does it mean to be welcoming? We defined Welcoming in one of our February Tips as:  Proactively engaging Read more

Change on the Fly - 5/30/23

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 Read more

Try an Empathy Exercise - 5/23/23

We often note that empathy is the most important quality to have in order to be great at customer service.  Empathy enables you to view people uniquely.  It helps the customer not to feel like just a number.  And the more we can view people as individuals, the better Read more

Time is of the Essence - 5/16/23

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.  Read more

Perpetuate Positivity with the Customer - 5/9/23

We’ve written many Tips on how to deal with various negative customer emotions.  Those emotions could reflect anger, fear of the unknown, upset, anxiety, or nervousness.  But instead of talking today about how to deal with their negative emotions, let’s talk about how to engender some positive emotions. We want Read more

Are You in a Position? - 5/2/23

Last week’s Tip compared Perspectives and Positions, and we noted that when people have a perspective on a given topic or issue, that’s often useful.  However, when people are more focused on their position, things can get testy. One topic we didn’t fully address last week was the definition of Read more

De-escalating Conflict in Customer Service - 4/25/23

Conflict can be very healthy and productive.  You and your customer are taking different perspectives, but if you have the same goal and you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, the different perspectives may lead to an interesting approach or a mutually-beneficial solution. If the decision was up to Read more

Why a Home Run Swing Whiffs - 4/18/23

ACME Tree Service showed up at Nancy’s house to provide an estimate for trimming some trees.  The sales consultant looked at the trees and their proximity to the house, and he quickly wrote up a bid.  Heavy trimming on 9 trees.  Heavy price tag.  It was a quick conversation Read more

Communicate Crisply - 4/11/23

I try to make these tips around 300 words, but oftentimes I’m North of 400.  I work hard to pare down the words because I don’t want one or two core points being lost in a barrage of verbosity. Phrases like lost in a barrage of verbosity are the things Read more

Improve Co-worker Rapport to Improve the Customer Experience - 4/4/23

The movers were packing up the house.  It was a stressful time for Janine.  She was having to move her aging parents to a new city in a new State to help care for them.  The parents were leaving behind friends and a community where they’d lived for most Read more

Redefine “Access” to Treat Customers Special – 11/29/22

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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 an interesting question:  If we want to treat our customers special – even if we’re not in the entertainment industry – what kind of special access can we provide to customers?

In some ways, “Special” is in the eye of the beholder, but allow yourself the opportunity to think on the following questions for those customers where something a little special, something above and beyond, makes them walk away feeling a little special.  Let’s redefine “Access.”

People: In what cases can you grant a customer access to a particular co-worker or department within your organization that is not commonly promoted as a point of contact in communications or the company website?  Maybe it’s access to a leader, an expert, a not highly-publicized telephone line or department.

Resources: When can you provide access to resources that are not commonly available?  It could be some internal documents, some How To’s, an online portal or an app, information you can e-mail, or key lessons learned from other similar clients.

Locations: Where can you provide physical access to a certain location at your facility, special parking or entrances, or certain special locations?  The information or the product or service is the same, but how they get there may be unique, where it’s located might be special.

Experiences: What are the types of experiences you can grant access to for this individual?  You could invite them to a webinar or a town hall meeting.  They could attend some special entertainment or presentation.  Think about even small gatherings you have for those community, civic, or charity events that might be promoted to the general public but not directly communicated to the customers.

Granted, access is tough to offer to customers, at times, but if we take a step back and redefine what could be considered a “Special Access Opportunity,” we might be able to grant access to our customers in new ways.

Redefine “Access” to Treat Customers Special.

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Keep in Mind 3 Key Questions – 11/22/22

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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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Value the Customer – Actions to Adopt and Avoid – 11/8/22

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When conducting research for a local government CSS client, we interviewed and conducted surveys with many of their customers.  We analyzed the results of the research based on those who had a great experience v. those who did not.  We uncovered that there were distinct differences between customers who felt valued and those who did not feel valued by the organization.

Empathize v. Defend. When the customers felt like the organization was listening to them, trying to understand their situation, trying to learn about their unique issue or goal or concern, the customer felt valued.  When dealing with an issue, if the customer felt like the employee was more focused on defending themselves or the policy or the procedure, the customer felt devalued.

Proactive v. Reactive. When the employee would suggest alternative options or provide a follow-up call to the customer, when the employee would share information about next steps, the customer felt valued.  However, if the customer had to reach out or they’d never hear from the organization, the customer felt devalued.

Work Together v. Win a Debate. When there was a need to be addressed or a goal to be achieved, if the customer felt like the employee was trying to figure out a way that they could work with the customer to identify a game plan, the customer felt valued.  When the customer felt like the conversation lingered too much on what facts were correct and which were incorrect, who was right and who was wrong in a particular situation, the customer did not feel valued.

Find Solution v. Deflect Blame. When the issue needed a resolution, if the employee was focused on figuring out what would work best for the customer, the customer felt valued.  However, if the customer felt like the employee was more focused on making sure they were not held responsible for the issue, the customer felt devalued.

Avoid being defensive, being purely reactive, debating the customer, and focusing on deflecting blame.

To help the customer feel valued, empathize, be proactive, work together, and find a solution.

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