Tag Archives: empowerment

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customer service decisions

How To Make Good Customer Service Decisions

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When you dig under the surface of any corporate policy and procedure designed to satisfy customers you might ask about empowerment. Employees who are empowered to make delicate and difficult transactional decisions have an important role; have you considered how employees make customer service decisions?

Most of the work that we do and likely most of the sales transactions don’t go beyond the decision for a customer to buy and for a vendor to fulfill. Occasionally though, something will go wrong. A client or customer will need something more, something extra, or perhaps there is a flaw or defect.

When we purchase a pack of Post-it notes, we expect them to stick, disposable pens we expect to have ink, and our file folders should fit in the cabinet. Many transactions are simple, straight forward, and require little thought to make things right.

Complex World

It is the complexity of the world we live in that creates an additional challenge. Expectations of people vary. So will the decisions that they make.

When there is a problem and we begin a conversation with someone designated to help, we may become progressively curious about his or her level of empowerment. A really angry customer may start the conversation with, “I need to speak with a manager.”

Many organizations feel a bit torn, a bit of tug of war, or wonder how they will walk-the-line.

There becomes a balance, often a set of rules or guidelines designed to steer employees to follow the flow chart. It is straight forward, or so we think. When the customer presents this, you say that.

When we think about it, it all comes down to the decisions that we trust employees to make. That is empowerment.

Certainly, not every employee is ready to make the most difficult choices. Consideration to advance problems to a higher level will probably always be part of the process.

The best scenario is minimizing problems in the first place. Those too are often based on the decisions that employees make.

Customer Service Decisions

Most people can follow the flow chart. They can be trained to understand start and end blocks, input and output, and processes. Still, at some point, they’ll encounter a decision.

Training is important, but training beyond policy will come from the training that forms an understanding of the culture.

Not every decision can be made at the front line, but the easy ones can. What makes a decision easier? Certainly ones with smaller risk, but understanding policy should have equal importance with developing the understanding of the philosophy and the culture.

That is how people make good customer service decisions.


Originally posted on October 9, 2017, last updated on August 25, 2020.

Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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Customer Service Failures

5 Common Customer Service Failures

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Customer service may mean many different things. In simplest terms, it is often thought of as a department, an organization stereotype I’m doing my part to remove. Customer service should be about a holistic organization approach. What are some of the most common customer service failures?

Helping businesses in many different sectors is actually very interesting work. You learn so much about styles, philosophies, and culture that may seek a similar result, but often vary widely in approach. Most businesses or sectors believe that they are unique. In some ways, they are, but there are also many commonalties.

Customer Service Failures

Here are five areas common areas for customer service failures:

  1. Decisions. Employees at all levels make decisions. Internally and externally, they decide. It may start with a decision about attitude, output, or communication. The only question really is, “Are they empowered?”
  2. Empowerment. Customers what results, they command action, and the loyalty to your brand is at stake. Guidelines can be helpful, but many situations are unique. The employee who is well trained in policy and procedure that is also appropriately empowered will likely extend the lifetime value of customers they touch.
  3. Response time. This measurement is common by your customers and their expectations are demanding. This is true during all aspects of the sales cycle, and of course, post-sale. This is also very applicable internally with the team and externally with not only customers, but also vendors.
  4. Protection. Great employees understand that they need to protect the company, but they also want to protect the customer. One of the most miscommunicated factors I witness with organizations is a misunderstanding of how to weigh decisions they make about how to balance this scale.
  5. Empathy. While it may feel like many customers just want action or resolution, they probably also want empathy. Every touch point must be well designed to express and demonstrate empathy. While action and resolution is often what we think about, an organization culture holds that empathy as a core value will likely have fewer service related issues.

Make Root Cause Changes

Have you thought about failures in the services your organization provides? What decisions can your organization make in these five areas, or others, that will make a difference?

If you’re going to improve failures or breakdowns, you’ll need to get to the root cause. The root cause is sometimes buried deep within traditions or values that drive culture.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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empowered customer service custserv

Empowered Customer Service Culture?

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Managing the customer experience doesn’t work well when the restrictions are high. Often organizations claiming to focus on customer service really only have a plan for the small problems. Big problems must move up the often-unavailable organization hierarchy. Do you have an empowered customer service culture?

What limitations does your organization set? What does the front line team understand? Is the purpose clear?

Rules and Policies

It doesn’t take long to have a well-intended rule create more of a problem rather than a solution. The longer the organization has been in business or the more transactions that have occurred you’ll often find more rules. Rules are limitations, limitations that may cause the loss of a customer.

“I can’t return your merchandise for cash. I can only give you in store credit for items that aren’t marked down or shown with a 30% off tag.”

“That bolt, washer, and nut are covered under warranty. I can’t just give you another one. We’ll have to send it back to the manufacturer.”

“Sorry about your fender bender, especially on a brand new car. Certainly, we will cover it with your insurance policy but you’ll have to install used parts. It’s in your policy that way.”

Empowered Customer Service

Does your organization believe in customer service empowerment? What are the rules, policies, and procedures?

Policy on customer service actions are often set to protect the margin of the sale, the sale to your valued customer. Are your executive team rules or a lack of empowerment creating too much red tape? Are you sabotaging the customer experience?

Certainly the business has to protect its bottom line but at what cost? Small businesses (big ones too) lose customers every day because of poor or misunderstood front line decisions.

Your front line is a touch point. Any touch point with a customer represents all that your business is, and all that it does.

Protect the Customer

You’ll always need to protect the business, but you’ll also need to look out for your customers.

Train the front line well. Empower them to make reasonable adjustments, allow flexibility, and have someone immediately available to manage transactions beyond reasonable parameters. Keep in mind that internal organization dynamics set external tone.

You’ve attracted the customer and made the sale. When your brand promise is tested, be sure that it works. It may begin or end with an empowered customer service culture.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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