Four Ways to Improve Customer Service

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4-ways-to-improve-customer-serviceWe’ve all been there…walking out of a store or hanging up the phone, feeling overwhelmed by the service that we received. Sometimes that feeling is positive and sometimes, unfortunately, we have encounters that are less than enjoyable. Think back to a time when you had one of these experiences, whether good or bad, and consider what the person you were interacting with did to make you feel one way or the other. What was your reaction?

Personally, I try to make it a point to acknowledge great service. I will seek out the manager to let them know that their employee is doing a great job.  Some people may leave reviews online about service they receive, while others may tell their friends and family about their experience. Regardless of our reaction, there is one thing that is certain:  when we invest our money and put our confidence in a brand, we have an expectation for the service that we receive.

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According to, 92 percent of 1,000 polled consumers said that “three or fewer poor customer service experiences” would cause them to stop doing business with a company. Furthermore, 26 percent of the same polled group said that just one bad experience would cause them to cut ties.  As a consumer, I can attest to the fact that I value good customer service. Not only do I enjoy receiving great service, I take pride in giving great service to my clients as well.  Most of my clients are very different, which means their expectations are also different.  It is my responsibility to make sure those expectations are met.  Although I may need to alter my approach more so for some than others, there are several things that can be applied to everyone across the board.

Here are four tips for improving your customer service:

  1. Do not make anyone feel like they are just a number. People want to feel like you want to help them. Yes, it is your job to help them, but go above and beyond the minimum required, to show them that you care. (Note: if you don’t actually want to help them, you may want to reconsider your choice to work in customer service.) Connect with them. Remember things about their family or hobbies and ask them about it.  Don’t be intrusive in asking for this information but pick up on tidbits that may be shared in passing.  Your clients will appreciate the personal touch, as well as your interest.
  2. Go above and beyond, but don’t be over-the-top. If there is anything as bad as horrible service, it is great service that feels ingenuine or forced. Clients can feel when we are trying to up-sell or impress them.  Go the extra mile for your clients, but watch your verbiage and tone when writing or speaking. Make sure you do not come off as pushy, stubborn, or artificial.  Be strategic when giving information. Give the pertinent details without inundating your client with information that they do not need or will not remember.  Be honest and real, and stay true to your company’s culture and mission.
  3. If there is an issue, present the solution before you give details of the problem. This might feel counterintuitive, because it can be difficult to explain how you fixed something without first explaining the problem you are solving. Give a general statement of what the issue is, followed by the proposed/executed solution, and then you can provide the details of the problem if necessary. Chances are, once the client knows that you already have a plan in place, they are not going to need the details of what happened anyway.  This is what they hire us to handle!
  4. Style-flex. This is a term I learned while working at Nordstrom and it is one of the many things that I learned there that has stuck with me. To style-flex is to adapt the way in which you communicate based on the person(s) with whom you are communicating. Remember, all clients are different and have different expectations. When you work in customer service, it is your responsibility to gauge your clients’ individual needs.  Some clients want to receive frequent communication, while others may prefer to come to you only when they have a question or concern.  Some clients want all the nitty gritty details, while others just want the basics. It is your responsibility to figure that out as you build your relationship with them.

The bottom line:  be sincere and authentic, put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and make a connection with each person as an individual.  Contact the author directly at

Image:  Evgeny Atamanenko

What Type of Diversity Are You Hiring?

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Group of people sitting together on benchI was talking with a business owner just the other day, about the struggles they’re having with employee retention and productivity within their organization.  They are an extremely diverse group, with African-American, Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic employees, all working together, all getting along.  It’s a great place to be; I want to take my kids there and say, “this is what society should be like.”

The problem is that they’re still struggling.  They hired for diversity that’s skin deep, but they didn’t hire the diversity that matters.  For example, consider a scenario where your idea to “create a path home,” where the goal, the victory, is getting home.  Your mindset is, “my job is based on getting there, and I have one way of getting there, by going down Williams Drive.”  If you hire 10 other people and their ideas and thought processes are the same (in this example, they all see Williams Drive as the only the way to get home), and they agree with you on everything, what happens when Williams Drive is closed? Continue reading “What Type of Diversity Are You Hiring?”

What Drives Your People Drives Your Company

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Artwork showing the left and right side of the brain.

When I was looking at my career path as a teenager, my folks introduced me to a friend from church who was a professional practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. We were going to use it to map out a plan for my course of study in college. After I slogged through 93 forced-choice answers, I felt no closer to interpreting my personality. To compound matters, the proctor said that he had never seen results like mine ever before. I had no glaring, obvious type that he could identify. The four colored bars were equal in height, indicating no possible insight could be gleaned.  I felt disheartened, and I still don’t know what label they use for my results.

After I became certified in The Predictive Index (PI) as a team member at Staff One HR, I realized there was no validity in a forced-choice question. The world is not binary, but shaded, and the PI behavioral assessment allowed for my own coloration of the way I felt about myself and the self I projected. It was particularly freeing for me, and I imagined all the other folks who have been “misdiagnosed” in the past, and what this freedom would mean to them. Continue reading “What Drives Your People Drives Your Company”

Simple Math: Why it Makes Sense to Outsource HR

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Man with chalk holding a book

A gentleman who once sold his company for over $1 billion told me that if he had to give one bit of advice to business owners, it would be to outsource all non-core competencies.  With the proliferation of the following outsourced/fractionalized professional services, it clearly makes sense to focus on what you do best to drive your own company revenue.

  • HR
  • Legal
  • VP of Sales
  • CFO / COO
  • Bookkeeping
  • IT
  • Marketing

Having been an entrepreneur myself, the one consistent trait that I see that continues to plague business owners is the need to control every part of their business.  Why not spend your time and resources instead on perfecting your craft, and resist the need to spend time on things that don’t make you money. Continue reading “Simple Math: Why it Makes Sense to Outsource HR”

HR Partnerships Increase Success

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bees grabbing other bees

People often ask me what I do…and to be honest, it is different for every company.  While the services provided are technically the same, each company has its own set of goals, and the road to success looks a little different for everyone.

I’d like to share the stories of three of my clients in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and how we help them meet their goals: Continue reading “HR Partnerships Increase Success”

10 Ways to Change Your Communication Culture

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Two kids playing with each other

In a world where we are swimming in different ways to communicate with each other, doesn’t it seem that we are sometimes lacking in this area?  In working with my clients, one of the items business owners and leaders always want to address is this:

How do we improve our internal communications?

The answer is normally much easier than people think.  Here are 10 ways you can completely change the communication culture within your office…for the better.  Continue reading “10 Ways to Change Your Communication Culture”

What Does At-Will Employment Really Mean?

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man carrying a box of office supplies

Throughout my HR career, I have advised managers and business owners on disciplinary matters for employees, as well as employee terminations.  One frustration that I’ve often seen from my clients is that I require a valid reason, as well as documentation, before I give the green light on any involuntary separation.

“But this is an at-will state!  That means I can fire any employee, at any time, and I don’t even need a reason!”  – A lot of managers

The above “quote” paraphrases an argument I hear frequently.

Continue reading “What Does At-Will Employment Really Mean?”

Invest in a “Great First Day” Experience for New Hires

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Dog Sitting on Welcome Mat
Image: Damedeeso

New employees are inundated with information on their first day at work.  Although they’re excited to learn about their new employer’s company and culture, as well as their job responsibilities, it easily can become information overload.  Typically, new team members must complete new hire paperwork, review an employee handbook, enroll in benefits, tour the office, and meet their teammates on their first day of work, as well as learning some basics of their new job.

When a company is growing quickly, or if a position has been open for an extended time, employees may be stretched thin, making it difficult to make time for and focus on welcoming a new team member. Continue reading “Invest in a “Great First Day” Experience for New Hires”

Handling Harassment Claims the Right Way

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Harassment is one issue that can make employers very uncomfortable.  Nonetheless, it’s important to take every complaint seriously, rather than minimizing an employee’s concerns, or overreacting to an accusation.

harassment in the office
Image: Lightwave Stock Media

Have a policy in place.

How can you handle harassment claims the right way?  You must have a policy in place and inform all employees what the policy is.  Make sure they understand the policy, as well as the importance of adhering to it. Continue reading “Handling Harassment Claims the Right Way”

Avoid These 6 Pitfalls to Make Better Decisions

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We all want to make good decisions. Sound decisions generally improve our outcomes in life and at work. Information from recent studies can help us fine-tune this process, since there are some real pitfalls to navigate. Here’s a short list.

Making better decisions

  1. Resulting – Former poker pro Annie Duke uses this term in her fantastic book, “Thinking In Bets,” to refer to the human tendency to blame a decision’s bad outcome instead of the soundness of its intention. For example, one football coach makes a decision in the final seconds of the Super Bowl to make a risky pass play, and loses the championship. A different year, another coach makes the same decision with the same constraints, and wins the Super Bowl. In both cases, the after the event, most armchair quarterbacks said the coach in each case got the result he deserved, even though the decision was the same. This backward-looking justification, “resulting,” only soothes what we cannot control: the luck involved. Lesson: make the best decision you can with the available information.

Continue reading “Avoid These 6 Pitfalls to Make Better Decisions”