wait | 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

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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Try an Empathy Exercise – 5/23/23

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

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 chance we have of addressing their specific issue, need, or goal.

But what does it mean to view people uniquely?

To address this question, with one education industry client, we created the following exercise.   Without going into too much detail in terms of how we conducted the activity, let’s just say that, as a group, workshop participants filled in these blanks to paint profiles of different students at the college.

I am a _________________ student at this community college.

I have been at this college for _______________ (time).

I’m going to college in order to _________________________.

I enjoy the ______________________ aspect of attending this college.

Outside of classwork, the most frustrating part of being a student is __________________.

I also get confused by processes like ________________ and terms like __________________.

Form the Story

Once the blanks were filled in, stories started to be told.  For example, one student story formed:  I’m a veteran.  I have been at the community college for 6 months, and I’m going to college to start a different career.  I enjoy having affordable education near my home.  However, I am frustrated by miscommunications and difficulties with the advising process.  I got confused about refund policies when I needed to drop a course, and terms like SOP don’t make any sense to me.

Respond based on their Uniqueness

To build your own capacity for empathy, or to illustrate empathy to others, create your own Empathy Exercise.   Come up with similar statements for you and your co-workers to complete.  Fill in each blank, and then discuss the individual.  What makes them unique?  How should we address them, respond to them differently based on who they are, what they enjoy, or what is frustrating or confusing?

The conversations you have in addressing these two questions are some of the most important discussions you can have when trying to build a better understanding of and appreciation for your customers.

To build your ability to view people uniquely, try an Empathy Exercise.

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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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