words | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 5

“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

When They Want to Talk to Your Boss – 8/16/22

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

“I want to talk to your supervisor.”

That’s their opening salvo.  Before you can hardly finish your greeting, the customer is asking for your boss.  This is done by a customer who has tried to get an issue resolved, and it hasn’t worked, so they want to go to somebody with more authority.  Also, some customers just immediately go to the supervisor and don’t even give the employee the chance to address the need.

Why Pause before You Transfer

Before you do the immediate handoff, we suggest that you go through a couple quick steps.  Why?  Because you may be able to help this person.  You could save the customer time by them not having to leave a voicemail for someone who is unavailable at that moment.  You could save them the hassle of being transferred or having to talk to multiple additional people.  And you could save your co-workers the time of having to deal with something that may be unnecessary to run by them, particularly if there’s little information shared on the situation.

What Process to Use

Here’s how to handle these situations:

  • Assure the customer that you want to help and you can help, whether that help means getting them to the supervisor or the person over that particular area. Let them know that you’re wanting to help, and you’re happy to set up that conversation.
  • Clarify the situation. Ask them: Just to make sure I understand the situation… or To make sure I send you to the right person… or To ensure you get your need addressed in the best way possible…  Then ask for a few details.  By clarifying the situation, you’re determining if you can help, you’re confirming to whom to send the customer, and you’re enabling yourself to provide background information to the supervisor.
  • Offer to address the need yourself, if possible. This could result in your actually fixing the issue or providing the information.  It could involve your acting on their behalf to engage the supervisor and get back to the customer.
  • Take the Next Step. This is when you let them know what you’re about to do next and when you’re going to do it, whether it is resolving the issue, operating on their behalf, or going ahead and connecting them with the person to best meet their needs.

 
When they want to talk to your supervisor, Assure, Clarify, Offer, and Take the Next Step to make sure that issues get addressed in the best manner possible for the customer, the co-worker, and the company.

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When Passive Voice is a Good Thing – 8/9/22

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

It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer!

We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things.

We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are to blame, but by blaming them, we are often whipping the emotions up.  And when we’re dealing with service recovery, we want to bring the emotions down.  We can waste a lot of time and energy dealing with emotions and never getting to a solution, so we want to find ways to deal with issues without focusing on blame.

Avoiding the You

Avoiding discussions of blame requires that we avoid discussions of You.  At a high level, we basically try to avoid the Who, and focus on the What and the When.  We literally talk about the issue, what happened, when did it happen, how did things occur.  We spend enough time on the issue only to understand the direction to go with the solution.

And with the solution, again, we focus on the What and the When, the How, and – sometimes – the Who.

So how do we avoid talking about who caused the issue?  Sometimes it’s very easy – just talk about what steps were taken without saying who took those steps.  We literally avoid the word You, and we actually use a little passive voice (When this happened… or This occurred after…).  Those are softer ways to describe an occurrence than You did this… You caused this… This problem was created by you.

Getting to the Solution

Again, we want to understand the issue well enough to get to the solution, but we don’t want to be mired in the emotion.  Sometimes it pays not to focus on who is right and who is wrong.  Instead, we need to focus on getting to the right solution as quickly as possible.

The next time you find yourself in one of these service recovery situations and the customer’s clearly in the wrong, focus on the issue and solution, and try to avoid assigning blame.

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What’s the Good Word? – 9/21/21

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

Each one of us talks to co-workers and customers every day.  And when you’re speaking with someone, there are always good ways to respond to questions or issues.  But there are also better ways to respond.  Since you’re receiving weekly customer service tips, I know you are all about continuous improvement!!

So, here are four quick examples of how to go beyond saying words that simply fit the conversation, and – instead – find better ways and better phrases to improve the customer experience.

Because CSS conducts research for our clients, oftentimes we’ll get e-mails from their customers that include complaints, and we need to respond to the customer on behalf of the client even though we have no ability or authority to investigate or resolve the issue.

  • Our response is OK if we say: I will send your e-mail to our client.
  • But this is Better: I will immediately forward your concerns and comments to my contact at our client, and I’ll ask that they respond to you directly.

 
I’m sure you often get requests or receive questions seeking status updates on issues or services.

  • Your response is OK if you say: I will check on that.
  • But this is Better: I’m going to investigate that right now for you.

 
Sometimes the customer isn’t being clear – they’re not giving you enough information to take action.  Maybe they have a different dialect from you or the speed with which they are talking makes what they’re saying unclear.

  • Your response is OK if you say: I don’t understand what you’re saying.
  • But this is Better: Help me understand a little more about the specifics of the situation.

 
I’m sure you’ve gotten many questions over the years about topics for which you did not immediately know the answer.

  • Your response is OK if you say: I’ll see what I can find out.
  • But this is Better: That’s a really interesting question. I had not thought of it like that before. I’ll be happy to research that for you.

 
Think about instances where you’re dealing with similar situations, and find ways to go beyond the OK response to something that’s better.

Be intentional about finding better phrases to better the customer experience.

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