10 Best Productivity Hacks for Customer Service [SlideShare]

Customer service teams are only as effective as they are productive.

With so many organizations and departments spread thin, doing more with less has become the mantra of many customer-facing teams.

These 10 productivity hacks will help you maximize your efficiency and deliver better customer service across the board.

Check out the SlideShare presentation below to get started!

Negativity Bias and Customer Service | Lion Hunting

Negativity Bias and Customer Service

Unfortunately, for those working in customer experience and customer service, human beings are inherently biased towards negative information. It is why the local news is known for “if it bleeds, it leads” and for promoting stories with headlines such as “is your child’s new toy a health hazard?”

Negativity Bias and Customer Service | Lion HuntingWe are evolutionarily attuned to watch for threats, and this programming makes us prioritize negative information.

Researcher Daniel Kahneman explains it this way:

“The brains of humans and other animals contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news. By shaving a few hundredths of a second from the time needed to detect a predator, this circuit improves the animal’s odds of living long enough to reproduce.”

It’s evolutionary; there’s no changing it.

For all of the talk about positivity and great attitudes, people are simply more attuned to negative inputs.

What’s worse for customer experience professionals is that these negative experiences stick around much longer than the positive ones.

Neuropsychologist Rich Hanson says it this way:

“The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones. That’s why researchers have found that animals, including humans, generally learn faster from pain (alas) than pleasure.”

This means issue resolution is not what we thought it was. The issue was resolved, but the impression made by the issue likely wasn’t.

So, how can we counter negativity bias to make customer experiences as positive as possible? Read more

5 Principles for Great Restaurant Customer Service

5 Principles for Great Restaurant Customer Service

5 Principles for Great Restaurant Customer Service

Restaurants are one of the few truly universal industries because almost everyone has familiarity with them.

From a customer service perspective, this makes restaurant customer service particularly challenging  because almost every customer has both established service expectations and well-formed service triggers.

Those expectations are often pegged to price or to impressions created by the physical environment.

In many cases, expectations are derived from the industry segment. We don’t expect the same service from Burger King as we do from Spago. A quick service restaurant (fast food) is obviously expected to be a completely different experience from a fine dining restaurant.

Where the industry gets tricky is that the segments are not always clearly defined, particularly in the mind of the consumer. Major brands are easiest to peg. Burger King is fast food. Panera is fast casual. Morton’s is fine dining.

But what about the family-owned Italian corner restaurant? Or the hip, modern downtown restaurant/bar? Or the eclectic American ten table restaurant? The lines are not always clear.

Add to that the standard individualized expectations that occur in all customer service scenarios — how fast should fast food be, just how casual is fast casual — and you can quickly see the challenges of the industry, challenges which have been exacerbated by a host of reality shows dedicated to chefs and restaurants that have turned millions of ordinary consumers into amateur restaurant critics. Read more

Should Customer Service Reps Start with their Best Offers? | People at table talking

Should Customer Service Reps Start with their Best Offers?

Customer service in the real world sometimes comes down to a negotiation. When you have an issue to resolve, often you and your organization are trying to find a way to make the customer happy without giving away the store and the customer (usually) is trying to get what she feels is fair.

While I don’t think negotiation is the best framework for viewing these situations, the underlying dynamic can be remarkably similar. In a negotiation, one generally tries to get as much as possible and give as little as possible. A customer service issue is similar, but different. While your goal should not be to get as much as possible from the customer; it can often be to limit how much you give in order to satisfy him.

Should Customer Service Reps Start with their Best Offers? | People at table talkingIn this way, the dynamics of negotiation can have very real implications for customer service, and the techniques and stratagems of negotiation can be useful. Read more

3 Questions to Ask Before Launching Live Chat for Customer Service

At CTS Service Solutions, we believe one of the best ways to improve  customer experiences is by making interactions ad easy as possible and by decreasing the hassle-factor.

Enter live chat.

Live chat contains a number of attributes that contribute to hassle-free experiences. From ease of first contact, to low-to-no hold times, to the convenience of customers interacting with service reps while performing other tasks, live chat offers an opportunity for organizations to assist customers quickly, easily, and cost effectively.

Live chat allows organizations to assist online customers in real time. When customers run into a problem, the customer can immediately take advantage of the live chat feature, interact with reps, and hopefully have their question answered or issue resolved quickly.

Live chat seems like a no-brainer.

However, investing in a new or lightly staffed customer service channel comes at a cost. Live chat is not for every customer, or every organization. Using data from a recent Software Advice report, we have formulated three questions to help you determine if live chat might be an effective channel for your customers. Read more

Woman Holding Help Sign | Self Service Shold Never Mean Solo Service

Self Service Should Never Mean Solo Service

Technology is an integral part of frontline customer service. From information kiosks to digital signage, from mobile point of sale devices to the customer’s own smartphones; technology is part and parcel of even the most basic face-to-face interactions on the service floor.

Self-Service Metaphor | Leave Me Alone SignWhile much is made of online shopping replacing retail shopping, less is discussed about how online shopping is shaping customer’s expectations in stores. Amazon, Zappo’s, and the like are catering to a wide swath of the population that likes to be able to shop without ever having to deal with another human being. They prefer, and even expect, technology to serve them what they want, when they want it.

Innovations like this one are popping up in a variety of industries and serving a wide array of needs. In some cases, I would argue that self service is the best service. Read more

Holiday Customer Service | Red Gift Boxes

6 Ways to Kickstart Your Organization for The Holiday Shopping Season

With the official Black Friday starting gun for the holiday season now officially fired, we thought we would share some tips for helping you prepare your teams for the remainder of the season. Remember, Black Friday and Cyber Monday still account for only a small percentage of holiday sales. The bulk of the holiday season is still ahead.

Preparation is the key to not only surviving but thriving during the holiday season. Do you have adequate labor? How will you inform customers of changing store hours? Can you augment your parking if needed to accommodate customers? Preparing for the season’s challenges ahead of time is the best way to make sure that increased traffic does not result in increased customer service issues.

Below we’ve assembled 6 tips to prepare your organization for the holiday season. While not every tip will apply across business models, most are fairly universal.

1. Learn From the Past

Have an informal meeting with your frontline teams to determine best, and worst, practices from the previous year. Make an assessment based on your conversation about where you are and what you can do to enhance your winning strategies and to avoid repeating bad performances.

2. Take Inventory

No shock here. The holidays are prime time for running out of inventory — and supplies.  Make sure you are well stocked with both.

Read More

Hero-Class Customer Service | CTS Man With Cape

A 3-Point Checklist for Reducing Customer Hassle

“First, do the customer no harm.”
The Hero-ClassTM Oath

Hero-Class Customer Service | CTS Man With CapeOne of the interesting things about writing a book are the things you leave out. I am wrapping up the final edits on my upcoming customer service book with the publisher this week, and one of the few areas I made last minute changes to were on the topic of delight, amazement, and Hero-ClassTM customer service.

It will be of no shock to readers of the Customers That Stick blogTM and The Customer Conversation that my approach to delight and amazement is steeped in a focus on service basics, with an emphasis on reducing hassle and executing consistently. WOW moments are great, but they should be layered on a solid base of meeting or exceeding expectations consistently.

I wanted to include the checklist below in the book; however, the book is focused on frontline customer service and this checklist is truly designed for organizational leaders who have the ability to influence process and systems decisions.

The 3-point checklist below will help customer experience leaders analyze the hassle factor their customers are experiencing: Read More

5 Customer Service Language Hacks

Language is important not just to how we communicate with our customers but to how we communicate with ourselves. The right words can put an irritated customer at ease and help you approach difficult situations with greater ease. ID-10087852

Effective customer service language can take a long time to master, so I thought I would share a few quick language tips you can incorporate into your service communication immediately. Give your communication repertoire a shot in the arm with these five quick customer service language hacks.

Use “We” sometimes and “I” sometimes

Use the word “we” to let the customer know you are on the same team and working towards the same goal; use the word “I” when you need to take accountability for the situation or your company. We and I send different signals to the listener, and which signal you want to deliver depends heavily on the message you want them to receive. Read More

Customer Communication Checklist | Hand with pen and check boxes

A Quick Customer-Facing Communication Checklist

At the core of all customer experience is communication.

Customer Communication Checklist | Hand with pen and check boxesCommunication helps direct a customer to the right department, helps make a customer feel valued, and helps give context to a product or service. Communication is among the most important of variables and, in many cases, the easiest to improve.

Sometimes, the simplest things get lost in the sea of complexity that is modern business. In customer experience optimization, many initiatives are complicated, requiring challenges like increased budgets, executive sponsorship, and infrastructure overhauls to even get off the ground.

On occasion however, the easiest wins can be among the most powerful wins, and taking a good look at your standard customer-facing communication is an easy way to quickly improve your customers’ experiences.

Below is a quick checklist you can use to review and improve your customer-facing communication:

  • Is the meaning clear?
  • Is it open to likely misinterpretation?
  • Does it strike the right tone?
  • Does it represent our current brand promise?
  • Does it accurately reflect our current business model?
  • Does it anticipate customer questions?
  • Does it anticipate and preempt potential service issues?

Read More