Customer Service Management Lessons

“Wax on- wax off!” Admit it. The original Karate Kid movie is great. In it good triumphs over evil and the mean people get their just deserts. I somehow feel more motivated to fight the good fight myself after watching a rerun. I have secretly wished that I had a Mr. Miyagi in my life; someone who could impart wisdom for all of life’s trials and keep me accountable to doing the right thing.

The goal of customer service training and management is not to script every scenario, but to give your customer service representatives the training, knowledge and experiences necessary to respond

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Customer Service that is Ready, Willing and Able

I once asked a manager why he was so calm with so many problems that needed fixing. He told me that he had served in the military. What he had to deal with then was a matter of life or death. Now, he didn’t have that kind of pressure. His challenges were frustrating for sure, but solvable. I really admired his strength, but I also wondered if he had spent time in his customer service department recently. To the CSRs it was a war zone full of combative customers, high call volumes and ever-changing rules. The department needed a morale boost and a strategy to go from being reactionary

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Environmental Services Customer Calls

The heart of customer service is to help and make people happy. When CSRs must react to situations versus being trained and ready to handle them, the customer suffers and so do your employees. Being prepared to handle anything that comes your way in customer service is a long term strategy. It requires a plan, preparedness training, ongoing assessment of your team’s skills and excellent communication between departments. No one is left behind and no one is left out.

Permanent Increase of Call Volume Acquisitions and new municipal contracts<br

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Free-Spirited Customer Service

I watched an episode of America’s Got Talent where a young woman on stage described her talent as belly dancing contortion. I had to admit I had no idea what that was and was intrigued enough to watch more. When she was finished, one of the judges told her she was a good contortionist, but a bad belly dancer. She defended that by saying she didn’t make a solid routine because “too much structure” made her feel like she had no freedom. She didn’t want to be “boxed in” by structure and it was obvious she was just doing an impromptu performance. For her, lack of structure

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Telepicting-Do you know who you sound like?

How many words does it take for you to determine if the customer on the other end of the line is in a bad mood? One? Maybe two? You hear your customer’s voice and you can’t help but start to pass judgment on cranky old Mr. Miller. After the conversation is over, you turn to your co-worker and say, “You won’t believe the jerk I just spoke with!” Your teammate nods her head and smiles as she says, “Wait until I tell you about mine!” Before you know it, everyone is talking about their customer as that jerk or that idiot that needs to get some manners. How many words

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Healthy Customer Service

When the nurse told me my blood pressure was 120/70 I felt great.  It seemed as if diet and exercise were paying off for me.  To be honest, the only number I have paid any attention to is the high pressure reading.  As long as I stay within the 120 range I am in great shape.  The low number didn’t mean anything to me until a paramedic took my father-in-law’s blood pressure.  When he said it was 90/30, I casually asked what the low number meant. The paramedic seemed alarmed as he shouted that he was bleeding somewhere.  He told me that the lower the low number was, the more serious

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Solid Detective Work Solves Service Issues

It was just a few minutes past 8:00 and already a customer was calling in to report that the trash had been missed.  The customer service representative looked at the account and saw that the driver had documented that it was not out when he came by the day before.  The CSR spoke in a cheerful voice as she told her customer that she failed to put the trash out on time.  She offered to send the driver back this time as a courtesy.  The customer was notably irritated as she defended herself and said that she always puts the trash out the night before.  The CSR rolled her eyes and sighed as

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In Pursuit of Roll-Off Sales

Customer service is trained and ready to sell your roll-off service when they hear people say they need a “big thing” for a project.  They are quick to promote roll-off when someone is calling to ask about your weekly service, too.  Where are the luscious roll-off sales you enjoyed in years past?  The economy or the competition may have taken a toll, but maybe we have stopped looking for sales opportunities in less than obvious places.

Here are some easy things you can do to grow your roll-off sales now.

  1. Have the CSRs tally the number of calls they receive in a day by category; new roll-off, new commercial, new residential, switch-out, service issue/complaint, billing, cancellation and other.  Have them do this for 3-5 days and look at your numbers.  I recently conducted an audit like this and found that 28% of the calls were for new sales opportunities where the CSRs had been effectively trained to promote other services.  55% of the customer calls were for things where we would not traditionally promote roll-off and they included switch-outs, service issues/complaints and billing questions or payment.  You need to have a strategy to promote roll-off for all types of customer calls.
  2. Calls to switch out a container are generally quick and easy.  Consider asking your customers if they are working on any projects where they aren’t using you for roll-off now.  That would be very insightful and should prompt more conversation.  Create an incentive for those permanent roll-off customers who provide you with a referral.
  3. When a customer is calling to discuss or pay a bill, the CSR should do a commercial on roll-off before the conversation ends.  If you are trying to build your e-mail addresses in the database, consider this approach, “Mr. Smith, we appreciate you as our customer and I would like to e-mail you a discount coupon towards our roll-off service.  May I have your e-mail address?”
  4. Customers call about their service every day and sometimes there are simple solutions.  Why not promote roll-off at the end of those conversations?  For the more difficult service issue conversations, consider this approach, “Ms. Jones we appreciate your feedback and your willingness to work with us.  I would like to send you a discount coupon for our roll-off service as a thank you.  May I have your e-mail address?”
  5. What your staff does with the lead information from these unclosed roll-off opportunities is important to growing roll-off sales.  Many CSRs say they keep notes in case the potential customer calls back.  What usually happens is the customer’s information gets buried under other stuff and it is rarely used to follow up.  Create an excel document that each CSR must complete daily that includes name, address, phone, e-mail, project and reason the sale wasn’t closed.  It only takes a few minutes in a day for them to complete something like this.  Tooty can help with scripting that addresses an objection to the sale which will help your staff develop more advanced selling skills. This excel document will make it easy to follow up on unclosed roll-off sales.  Did you know that about 30% of those you call back will go ahead and have you schedule delivery?
  6. Outside sales people are often lax about promoting roll-off to their prospects.  Many don’t understand that a new business may need to do construction before they are ready to open the doors.  When working on retention, consider offering a discount coupon for future roll-off service as a thank you.

Your customer service department has the best opportunity to grow your roll-off

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Prepare For the Unexpected With Good Organization

I was 20 when I began working for the CFO of a trucking company.  Lou was responsible for the financial stability of the company and I was his bookkeeper, file clerk, administrative assistant and gopher. Lou had a unique filing system which involved stacking paper and file folders in piles on his desk, the credenza and all available floor space around him.  I personally thought it was a mess and wanted to help Lou get his act together.  I rolled up my sleeves and marched into his office to grab the first pile I came across.  Lou was busy working on the month end reports and I doubted he

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An Unforgettable Customer Experience Isn’t a Good Thing

I went out with some friends for a burger the other night to a chain restaurant that resembles a 50’s diner.  The service was slow, but we didn’t mind because we were busy talking.  When the burgers arrived, I took a big bite of mine and began to remove the paper wrapper so I could get more.  I was quite surprised to find a rubber glove tucked inside.  We waved to our bubbly waitress and showed her the obviously worn glove wrapped up with my beef patty.  She looked shocked and said she wasn’t going to “touch this one” and went to get her manager.  Barry showed up with a big smile

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