Five Ways Weekly Customer Service Tips Can Boost Your Team

You can get a lot of great ideas from listening to customers.

A few years ago, I met a client for coffee. She had sent her entire team through my Delivering Next Level Service training program and the results were looking good. Still, my client was worried.

"I want to keep my team sharp by continuously reinforcing the skills they learned in training," she said. "My challenge is I don't always know how to do that. I wish I had an easy way to remind them... and to remind me."

We brainstormed a little until we hit upon a simple solution. 

I created an automated system that emailed one customer service tip per week to each person on her team. My client would get the email too so she could follow-up with them.

My Customer Service Tip of the Week email is now available to anyone. Here are five ways you can use it to boost your team's customer service:

#1 Team Meeting Topics

Many customer service teams have regular meetings. You can use the Customer Service Tip of the Week to generate discussion topics to share with the team.

Let's say the current tip was Use Positive Body Language.

You could lead a discussion with your team to brainstorm ways that body language can positively impact your customers. Then, at the next team meeting, you could ask for people to share success stories and challenges they experienced when being mindful of the body language they displayed.

 

#2 Address A Specific Need

You can also use the tips to address a specific need. My Customer Service Idea Bank page allows you to search for tips by category or keyword. 

For example, you could search the Solving Problems category to come up with a list of tips that were useful for working with upset customers.

Clicking Solving Problems will bring up a list of tips in that category. You could then select three to five tips that were really applicable and share them with your team.

 

#3 Generate New Ideas

The tips are designed to be reminders, but many of the tips contain helpful new ideas that your team can use to elevate their service.

For instance, the Five Question Technique is a terrific way to build rapport with customers while simultaneously identifying additional ways to serve. Best of all, even introverts can use this technique to become skilled conversationalists.

 

#4 Reinforce Training

The tips were originally designed to reinforce concepts taught in my customer service training programs. The reminders help participants retain what they learn long after they attend the training.

These reminders work well whether you're team attended one of my onsite training courses, live webinars, or even took one of my courses on Lynda.com. The reminders can also be used to reinforce other training programs because many are so general in nature.

 

#5 Feed Your Curiosity

Some people just want to know the most cutting edge ideas in customer service. That's why most of my weekly tips contain a link to a blog post or a helpful resource.

One of my recent tips was Tell The Truth. The email contained a link to a bonus blog post that detailed how a service failure and a lie created a customer service uproar that briefly grabbed national headlines.

 

Sign-up

You can use the form below to sign-up for my Customer Service Tip of the Week email. Or, pass this blog post on to your team and have them sign-up too.

Name *
Name

One Thing Great Customer Service Managers Do Differently

Great customer service managers always seem cool, calm, and collected.

This flies in the face of reason. The typical manager spends most of their day putting out fires or running to the next meeting. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done. 

How can these elite managers remain calm? Where do they find the time to coach, train, and develop their employees?

Great managers do at least one thing very differently than everyone else.

Meet The Ever-Present Teddy

My wife, Sally, and I traveled in December to spend Christmas with family. We stopped for a night at a resort on our way back home.

That's where we met Teddy. He was a supervisor who seemed to be everywhere we went.

We first met Teddy when we arrived at our room. He and another associate had just dropped off some fruit as a welcome amenity. Teddy and his colleague took a moment to help bring our bags in and give us a brief orientation.

We later saw Teddy at dinner. Our server noticed that we enjoyed wine. She mentioned that Teddy was helping her learn more about wine too. Teddy was working in the restaurant, so he stopped by our table to chat about wine for a moment.

The next morning, we saw Teddy in the restaurant again at breakfast. He spotted us and came over to our table to say hello. We talked for a moment before he went off to show a server how to set up a table for a large group.

Every time we saw Teddy, he was doing one thing that great customer service leaders do differently. Did you spot it?

He was constantly training and coaching employees. 

Teddy showed an associate how to deliver an amenity to a room so the associate could do it himself. He helped a server learn about wine so she could serve her guests more confidently. He helped another server set up for a large party so she knew what to do the next time.

Teddy never did the work for them. He also didn't leave them to struggle by themselves. He did the task with them side-by-side so he could show them the right way to do things through hands-on instruction.

 

Show, Don't Take

Managers often make the mistake of doing their employees' work for them.

They take on a problem and fix it because they know how. It's an instinctive move that feels faster when the manager is pressed for time.

This causes two issues. 

First, the employee doesn't learn how to solve the problem or complete the task. This leads to the second problem - the manager has all but guaranteed that they're going to have to deal with the same issue again.

I call this the manager's paradox. You can either spend time you don't have developing your employees now, or spend twice as much time fixing problems later.

Managers like Teddy don't do their employees' work for them. They'll often do employees' work with them, but this is different. It's part of an ongoing process to delegate, empower, train, observe, and coach employee performance. 

It's hard work, but the reward is a motivated and capable team of employees.

 

Resources

There's a certain bravery involved when your plate is full, but you take a moment to develop yourself and your team. It causes short-term pain, but long-term gain.

There are many resources available to help you elevate your skill as a customer service leader. This blog is one. You can subscribe via email if you haven't already.

I've also compiled a list of 51 terrific resources - books, websites, blogs, and other tools.

You may always want to check out the Managing a Customer Service Team training course. It's a video-based class on lynda.com. You'll need a lynda.com subscription, but you can get a 10-day trial.

Here's a preview:


The lazy customer service manager

I’m feeling a bit lazy. My mission is to write this blog post, but I really don’t want to invest the effort necessary to write a good one. The way I see it, I have three options:

  1. Republish something I’ve already written for someone else
  2. Embed a funny YouTube video that somehow makes a point about service
  3. Draw inspiration from someone else.

Let’s go with option 3 because I already have someone in mind: The Lazy Customer Service Manager. Before I go on, please excuse any snarkiness. I’m too lazy to edit that out today.

 

The Lazy Customer Service Manager: A Profile

I’ve met a lot of customer service managers. The great ones work tirelessly to help their team deliver world class service and the results speak for themselves.

The lazy ones work tirelessly to find shortcuts. Most of those shortcuts don’t work. Their results speak for themselves too.

Here are a few examples.

Perfect Attendance Awards

The idea behind this motivational gimmick is that people need extra motivation to come to their lousy jobs on a regular basis. This seems to be especially popular in call centers. Perhaps this is because very few people have ever said, “You work in a call center?! Is it as glamorous as it sounds?”

The lazy manager thinks, “I know how to solve our absenteeism problem. We’ll create a perfect attendance award where everyone who has perfect attendance for a month will be entered into a drawing. The winners of the drawing will get to spin a prize wheel for a chance to win fabulous prizes such as candy, gift cards, and (ironically) a day off with pay.”

That was a real example. I so wish I was making this up.

Great customer service managers take a slightly different approach. They focus on making the workplace a great place to be so people will naturally want to come to work. 

Suggestion Boxes

There are a number of reasons why the lazy manager will put out a suggestion box. Perhaps the manager read an article somewhere that the best companies ask their employees for input. Maybe Office Depot is having a sale on suggestion boxes. It could be that the manager is just looking for a way to get employees to stop complaining directly to him. The possibilities are endless.

One lazy manager I knew thought he was enlightened when he promised to post a written response to each suggestion on the team bulletin board. This practice quickly stopped when the vast majority of suggestions turned out to be complaints about working conditions, co-workers, and even the boss.

Again, I really wish I was making this up.

Great customer service managers skip the suggestion box and talk to their employees on a regular basis. They recognize that a true “open door” policy requires them to walk through their door and create an environment where employees will be comfortable enough share their candid opinions.

Incidentally, I did Google “suggestion box” as part of my exhaustive research for this blog post. Sharlyn Lauby has a good post on her HR Bartender blog called 7 Considerations for Suggestion Box Programs.

The Angry Memo

Serious customer service issues can sometimes arise. The lazy manager often addresses these issues via an angry memo that’s emailed to everyone on the team or perhaps posted on a bulletin board. Typically, only one or two people on the team are actually to blame, but the lazy manager finds it safer to get everyone involved rather than speak privately with the people who really need to hear the message.

One example comes from a restaurant in Boston where the owner allegedly posted this memo on an employee bulletin board in response to a bevy of customer complaints:

“You are the LOSERS!!!” … “Change or be changed. Please, don’t force your termination for the holidays.”

You can read more about the story on Patrick Maguire’s I’m Your Server Not Your Servant blog.

Great customer service managers skip the angry memo and constructively address issues as soon as they arise. For example, a customer complaint might be treated as a learning experience and met with a discussion on ways to improve service quality.

What are other characteristics of a lazy customer service manager?

Some might call this last part lazy since I’m basically asking you to finish this post for me by leaving your comments. I prefer to call it crowd-sourcing.

Whatever the term, please do share your own examples of signs that a customer service manager is being lazy.