zappos | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

Find a Connection Point – Part 1: Personal Connection - 9/27/22


Some people are born almost like a master at communication.  They know how to establish rapport with just about anybody, and they do so in a way that seems so natural and so real.  They can form relationships and be laughing with somebody they met two minutes ago like Read more

Be Proactive without being Pushy - 9/20/22


Delivering great customer service isn’t just about responding and reacting.  It’s also about being proactive.  Developing relationships involves reaching out first, not just extending our hand when somebody reaches out to us. But it’s all too clear that those of us who are in service roles prefer those roles to Read more

Be Kind to Yourself When the Customer Isn’t - 9/13/22


I was having a debrief call with one of my clients recently, and this was regarding a survey of employees who work events.  One of the survey questions asked employees for advice on how to improve the customer experience.  When the employees shared their input on the guest experience, Read more

Being the Emphatic Employee - 9/6/22


Empathy is the key quality of somebody who’s great at customer service.  We talk about it often - what it is, how to convey it, what it looks like, and how it makes the customer feel. But along with knowing how to be empathetic, we also need to know how Read more

The Good, the Really Good, and the Ugly of Customer Service - 8/30/22


Here are three helpful customer service stories.  They may not be from your specific industry, but it’s always good to learn from others. The Good… Paula submitted a ticket to the I.T. vendor.  Below the signature line in the reply she received was the following:  Please share your comments or needs Read more

A Great 2-Minute E-mail - 8/23/22


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 Read more

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


“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 Read more

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


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 Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But Read more

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

Add a Hint of Salt and a Pinch of WOW – 2/25/14 TOW

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


The restaurant always did something a little special. It was the free dessert, the personalized menu, the visit from the manager, an appetizer that was compliments of the chef, or the upgrade to a nicer table.

Every time it was a WOW to the customer. We define a “WOW” moment as an “Unexpected Positive Event.” And while these WOWs may be obvious for a restaurant, many of us don’t work in restaurants. We work at events, at colleges, at hospitals, and at banks. We work in government, in manufacturing, in clinics, and in sports.

Does this mean the WOW’s not possible? No, it just means that the WOW sometimes isn’t a financial expenditure, but it’s still possible. Zappos strives to give each customer a WOW moment. Surely they don’t spend $10 per customer to WOW them.

So what UPE can you create for your customer that costs virtually nothing? Put your twist on some of these ideas:

  • Stand up when they approach your desk (this RARELY happens nowadays).
  • Convey sincere excitement when they walk in the door (how happy do the people at the vet seem when you bring in your kitten for an exam?).
  • Come out of your office to greet the customer (it makes them feel important)
  • Respond to voice mails and e-mail messages as soon as they’re received, particularly if there’s an issue (speed is vital in Service Recovery).
  • Provide them some “educational” information that enables them to have a better experience in working with your organization (it’s not just about reacting to their need; it’s also about being proactive and helpful).
  • Call somebody by name throughout the discussion (it makes them feel that they matter to you).
  • Sincerely thank them for their business – noting that you really appreciate their being your customer (be patient in the close).
  • Send them a handwritten “Thank You” note after the encounter (another RARE activity nowadays).
  • Call them after an appointment to check-in, gauge their experience, or ask if they’re enjoying the use of the product (WOW with the follow-up).

Think of the little things that are UNEXPECTED but so good that they make the customer remember you positively.

Think of something that brands your encounter as a “WOW!”


Speed the Transformation of Your Customer’s Experience

Posted on in Business Advice, Education Please leave a comment

I’m constantly flummoxed by executives who feel that the only good idea is a new idea, the only means to success is through their own innate creativity. A COO once told me that trying to create simplicity in operations for staff (so they could more consistently deliver a great experience to their customers) wasn’t challenging enough.

The best executives need to realize that there’s a multitude of great examples of customer service cultures and wonderful customer experiences in other businesses, other industries. And there’s no shame in learning from others to speed the transformation of an organization.

In the article City School District taking lesson from Wegmans, the Rochester School District announced that it was going to train staff on many of the same customer service principles and techniques that Wegmans Grocery Stores (with a reputation for great customer service) utilize. This includes quick issue resolution and fostering a WWWD (“What would Wegmans do?”) mindset.

The point is not to say that we all need to look to our local grocer for customer service tips. Rather, in Education or other industries (local government, healthcare, etc.) that are not always known for a great customer experience, sometimes it’s better not to look at industry peers. It’s best to look to those who have the reputation for being the best in a particular aspect of business. Think Zappos for culture, Chick-fil-A for consistent customer service in a transactional environment, or Amazon for personalization in a high tech/high volume world.

Speed the transformation of your customer’s experience by benchmarking with best-in-class performers OUTSIDE your industry.

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Create a Patient-Centered Culture

Posted on in Business Advice, Healthcare Please leave a comment

Zappos delivers great customer service, but its leader seems to talk mostly about his corporate culture. Disney is always brought up in seminars we provide for their great customer experience, but so much of what makes it a great experience is the consistently high performance of its “cast members.”

Culture and customer service are intertwined in great companies, and that’s why it’s no surprise that the article NY nurse executives focus on positivity addresses how to drive higher patient satisfaction by creating a patient-centered culture. According to the article, successful healthcare organizations possess a “strong unit and organizational leadership that promote a service culture tied to operations and finance; effective partnerships with patients and families; an engaged and satisfied workforce; and a strong performance improvement focus.”

Note what’s being discussed here…leadership that’s strong…leadership that promotes service…an organization that realizes patient/customer satisfaction is intertwined with operations (processes) and finance (business outcomes). They address partnering with customers, having motivated staff, and continually improving.

I agree with all these points; most cohesive cultures are created and fostered by leaders who have a well-articulated vision, who practice what’s preached, who understand the process impact on patient satisfaction and the patient satisfaction impact on financials.

But some of the “hows” are missing from the article. How do you get an engaged workforce? How do you continually improve? Leadership is the start, but that focus on patient satisfaction has to begin with your hiring process and criteria for staff, what you reward them for doing, and how you hold them accountable. A patient-centered culture requires training and an internal communication plan that is proactively conveying the messages to staff that you want repeated to patients. Patient-centered cultures require smooth information flow from patients and families to staff and leadership, so data-driven improvements can be made real-time when needed and through root-cause analysis when recurring issues occur.

To create a patient-centered culture, get leadership on board, and get the ball rolling through hiring, motivation, accountability, training, communications, process design, and continuous improvement.

Create a great culture with your people to create a great experience for your customer.

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