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Five W’s of Thank You Notes for Co-workers

thank-you One of the search queries that someone typed in recently was “thank you notes for co-workers.” I’ve talked about thank you notes for customers (including samples and what to do if you have bad handwriting), but I don’t think I have ever mentioned what a good idea it is to send thank you notes to co-workers.

In fact, it is really useful. Having a good relationship with your co-workers is just as important as having a good relationship with your best customers. Chances are that you need their help and support to be able to do your job.

Who should get them.
Co-workers, contractors, consultants, etc. It is also perfectly okay for a boss to send an employee a thank you note. For more information, see when to send them.

What to say.
Keep it simple and sincere. Say something along the lines of:


Thanks so much for helping me out on Tuesday. It means a lot to me that you took time to stay late and help me finish up the project. I know you didn’t have to and I really appreciate you doing so. You were a tremendous help and for that, I think an additional thank you is due.


Really brief, but hopefully sincere. Everything has a different style of writing and expressing themselves. The above kind of represents my style, but I think it can give you an idea.

Why send them.
It is extremely important to get along well with your co-workers and other people you need to work with. If you let them know that you appreciate them, chances are they will be a lot more likely to help you out in the future. A lot of people don’t mind helping if they feel appreciated.

Where to send them.
You can send them to the person’s office (probably most appropriate). If you know the employee well, you can send the note to their home. It is okay to hand the thank you note to the person at the office or wherever you happen to see them as well.

When to send them.
Like with customer thank you notes, you only want to send thank you notes to co-workers when the situation calls for it. If they have recently done something in particular that really helped you out, have constantly been helpful to you over a period of time (i. e. a month), etc., then it is time (and appropriate) to send a thank you note.

How they should be.
Thank you notes should be written (hopefully handwritten) on cards. No need for a Hallmark card. Just a simple piece of stationery with your note is just fine. Email is not the best medium for a sincere thank you note, but is always better than nothing.

Five W’s of Telephone Interviews in Customer Service

Another searched topic on Service Untitled is related to telephone interviews. Readers seem to be interested in telephone interviews, so I’ll talk about them! I’ll try to do a 5 W (and 1 H!) spin as well.

All companies, regardless of size hiring customer service representatives (and other positions) should do at least one telephone interview with qualifying candidates. A brief telephone interview (15 minutes) should be done with basically all applicants who meet the minimum requirements (experience, education, etc.) or seem to have some experience that may be relevant (i. e. 2 years in marketing instead of 1 year in customer service).

A telephone interview is very much like a regular, face-to-face interview. An interviewer (an HR person, a supervisor, etc.) usually asks some standard questions about an applicant’s experience, motivation, and so on. It can be standard interview questions (like tell me about yourself) or a less formal situation.

Employers should do telephone interviews to:

  • Get an idea about a candidate’s telephone skills.
  • Talk to the candidate and see what he/she is like (mainly personality wise).
  • Ask some initial questions, cover some initial concerns, and so on.
  • As a cost effective way to talk to a lot of candidates and hopefully find some good ones.
  • Quickly eliminate bad candidates.
  • Plenty of other reasons.

Over the telephone, of course! Candidates should pick a quiet place that is distraction free to do a telephone interview. Have a copy of your resume, the company web site, and so on up on your computer so you can check facts and look up things quickly. Interviewers should also give phone interviews the proper attention (don’t be distracted, have a quiet room, etc.).

Interviewers should request a phone interview right after they see a resume that interests them. Candidates shouldn’t change too many things for a phone interview (they are usually very initial – don’t bet the farm on them), but should try to do it at the interview’s convenience if possible.


  • Employers: Start by asking some basic questions about their background and enthusiasm/attitude related to customer service. Listen carefully to their tone of voice, word selection, and what they are generally saying. You want someone who’s friendly, seems intelligent, and listens. If they interrupt you a lot or don’t listen to what you say, not a good sign.
  • Candidates: Listen to what the interviewer says and answer the questions. You can
    “pad” things to make them sound better, but don’t really change too much. Don’t interrupt and use your good customer service skills. Ask how they are doing, and all of that jazz.

Both parties: remember to follow up. Send a little thank you email or letter and thank the employer/candidate for their time and interest.

The Five W’s of Hiring a Customer Service Consultant

At Service Untitled, we offer customer service consulting services for organizations that are interested in improving their customer service. We help companies implement the things I talk about on Service Untitled and tailor solutions and ideas for their company.

To help inform people about hiring a customer service consultant, I decided to write the Five W’s of hiring a customer service consultant. They are below:

Some consultants work by themselves and others have a team. I personally work by myself and have a small team of people that I work with for specialty tasks. Some consultants have these people on staff – others (like me) hire them as needed.

Do your research on your consultant. Do they have a blog? Is it well established? Where have they worked? Ask your consultant for references, case studies, and examples. Be sure you know who you will be dealing with.

What do you want your consultant to do? Most consultants (myself included) will have a phone call or a meeting with you for free to get an idea of what challenges you are facing and how to alleviate them. They should give you specific suggestions, not just sweeping statements about customer service.

Ask your consultant about what they specialize in. For example, people shouldn’t hire me if they specially want to maximize the productivity of each one of their agents. They hire me if they want to improve their entire customer service experience and make a difference with little things.

Why should you hire this consultant? Ask them that. There are quite a few customer service consultants out there and the consultant should be able to give you a few reasons why they are better than the others.

Why will they use method X over method Y?

The where part is mainly logistics. Where will the consulting work to be done? Will the consultant work in your office for a period of time or work remotely? How long will they work with you? Will there be a follow up period in a few months? Who will they work with (very important)?

How is the consultant going to make changes? They should be willing to prepare a proposal for you explaining what they will do and how they will do it. They should be able to answer your questions.

Remember, if you don’t feel good about hiring the consultant – don’t. There are plenty of other ones to choose from. You will work a lot with the consultant and you want to work with someone who you get along and feel comfortable with.

An Executive’s (Quick) Guide to Customer Service: PDF Version

As promised, here is the free download of the PDF version (with an expanded introduction and some other extra information) of the Executive’s Quick Guide to Customer Service.

Since everyone has different browser settings and such, here is an easy way to download the file:

  1. Go to http://www.serviceuntitled.com/downloads.
  2. Click the file titled “ExecGuidetoCS.pdf”.
  3. Click Save and save the document to your Desktop or a folder of your choice.
  4. Open the file using Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader (my personal favorite).
  5. Read and enjoy!

If clicking the file does not work, you may need to right click it and choose an option like “Save Target As”. One of those two ways seems to work on pretty much every computer.

You are free (and encouraged) to distribute the article around to friends and colleagues – just ensure you follow the terms outlined at the end (basically, don’t remove anything). The article will hopefully be helpful to you and/or people within your company.

There will be many more downloadable PDF articles on customer service available on Service Untitled in the upcoming months. Most likely, they will all be distributed under the same terms. The next one is the Big List of Things Not to Say. After that, I expect I will go through some old posts and pick out the “gems” and make those available as PDFs as well.

I would like to wish all my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be taking the day off, but will be back with a short post on Friday. Normal postings will continue on Monday.

An Executive’s (Quick) Guide to Customer Service

This post is also called Five W’s of Customer Service (for Executives). However, I like the above mentioned title more and think it is more appropriate.

I don’t talk about it too much, but a big issue with customer service is that management, particularly non-customer service executives can’t quite embrace the concept. I’ve talked about the Five W’s of Success Through Customer Service, but it wasn’t specific to executives.

This is an executive friendly version of the Five W’s of Customer Service – they should print it out and hang it up on their wall. I will post a PDF version of it later today or tomorrow.

Who: A commitment to customer service needs to start at the top. You need to influence your employees, co-workers, partners, and suppliers to provide great customer service to everyone they interact with. It is your reasonability as a company leader to help guide the company in the right direction and ensure people focus on the right things. In this case, it is a commitment to and a focus on customer service.

What: What is the customer service standard in your industry? Think about the answer to that question and then, step it up a notch. Customer service is defined as providing product or service support to potential or existing customers. However, you need to take it a step further: make a customer’s day when they interact with your company, give them a reason to refer others to your company, and go the extra mile whenever possible.

Why: Beside the why not answer? The more objective answer is that with better customer service, you will see improved customer satisfaction, which more than likely will lead to: fewer complaints, happier and more productive employees, more repeat business, increased referrals, better reviews of company products and services, and so much more.

Where: Everywhere. Great customer service cannot be limited to one store, or just over email support – it has to be everywhere. Consistently high quality customer service needs to be provided over every medium and at every place you interact with customers.

When: Do not let customer service be another phase or project of the month at your company. Make customer service a permanent and ongoing commitment and focus. Whenever you interact with customers, you need to provide great customer service.

How: Hire people with experience in customer service that can help make a difference and learn as much as you can about the subject: read articles, read books, read blogs, ask others about what they do, and pay attention to customer service. Most of all, stay focused and keep working. Doing all these things can make a difference in your customer service and subsequently, your business as a whole.

The hardest part of customer service is sticking with it. You need to stay focused on the goal (great customer service all the time) and always keep working to improve. If you can do that, sooner or later, you will see that your company will provide great customer service and subsequently, the business results will also improve.

Five W’s of Success Through Customer Service

I have an interview ready to get posted – just waiting for a few clarifications from the company before I post it. I’m doing a few more interviews over the next week, so there will be a few interviews posted here in the upcoming few weeks.

Today’s post is about the Five W’s of having a successful company by utilizing customer service. Basically, it’s a way to achieve success like Headsets.com and Printing For Less (ordinary product/service made extraordinary company through customer service).

The management and employees. A commitment to customer service has to start at the top and go all the way down. If the management team isn’t fully committed to customer service, the company won’t be able to succeed using customer service. Furthermore, the management team has to recruit employees who are as committed to customer service and customer satisfaction as they are.

What: Customer service (in case you didn’t know) is technically defined as providing product or service support to potential or existing customers. In non-technical terms, it’s making customers happy, encouraging customers to refer you to their friends, family, and colleagues because they have had a pleasant experience with your company, making customers happy (customer satisfaction), and more.

You’ll see increased customer referrals, increased customer satisfaction, fewer complaints, have higher employee productivity (not proven, but companies with good customer service generally have happier employees. Happy employees general are more productive than unhappy employees), you can charge a little bit more for the extra service you are providing, etc.

You need to provide excellent customer service through any medium that you use to interact with customers. This includes, but certainly isn’t limited to: in person, telephone, email, live chat, company forums, company blog, and anywhere else you happen to interact, talk with, etc. customers.

A commitment to customer service should be a permanent one. It isn’t a phase, a monthly project, or anything like that – it is a full fledged and permanent commitment. Whenever you interact with customers, you need to be ready to provide great customer service.

How: Through however you can provide great customer service. Read articles, read blogs, read books, hire consultants, hire people with experience in customer service, practice, ask around, etc. That’s the best way. It’ll come naturally if you think “How can I make this part of the customer experience better?” and pay attention to companies that provide great customer service.

The key to seeing success through customer service is to be committed to it all the time. Every person in the company has to be committed to it and always work to make the customer experience better (including the customer service experience better). There are literally thousands (and likely many many more) ways to do this and it all depends on what works best for your company.

Whatever you do, don’t treat customer service as a company theme of the month, the quarter, or even the year. Make it an ongoing commitment and something you are always working on doing.

You will see positive results in your customer and employee satisfaction scores, customer and employee retention, business results, and so many other ares.

Follow-up: How

Okay, so we’ve gone over the who, what, why, where, and when, now to the how. Basically, the how is just a combonation of the rules for each of the details.

  • Ensure whoever doing the follow-up is aware of what the issue is and is both patient and friendly.
  • The point of a follow-up is to establish contact with a client pro-actively. Don’t waste a follow-up by having no set goals of the call.
  • Follow-ups help build brand awareness, improve the customer service experience, resolve issues more quickly, gather feedback from customers, and most importantly, make customers happier.
  • Follow-ups should be conducted over the same medium as the original correspondence. If the customer emails you, do the follow-up over email. Be sure to list or mention all ways to contact your company in all follow-ups.
  • Never do follow-ups if you think you may be bothering someone. In most cases, contacting the customer at the same time they contacted you is the best time.
  • The best golden rule is to use common sense and do your best to make customers happier (all the time).

If your representatives are patient, knowledgeable, and courteous when they do follow-ups, your customers will be happy. Follow-ups should be a key part of your customer service experience and customers will certainly appreciate your efforts.

Since everyone always wants examples, here’s an ideal follow-up for a web host being sent to a customer who recently had issues with his email. (after the more part)

Continue Reading

Follow-up: When

The when part of this series on follow-ups for customer service and support departments has two parts: the first being when (as in 2:00 PM or 10:00 AM) the follow-ups should be conducted and the second part is how long after the issue is assumed resolved or left inactive (as in one week, two weeks, etc.).

The golden rule of when and follow-ups is don’t bother anyone. The second you bother one of your customers is the second they start to think less of your brand, your company, and your customer service experience. You’ve put in the work to do the follow-up and you shouldn’t screw it by bothering your customer.

Part 1: What Time
Since general golden rules are popular the rule for what time is generally the time they contacted you. However, this is more like a silver rule as it doesn’t always work. I know that I send emails or call tech support every now and then at 1 or 2 AM and I certainly wouldn’t want to get a phone call around then.

This rule does generally work, though, if you do your homework. When making phone calls, see where the person lives and lookup the time zone. I live on east coast of the US, so if the representative bothers to look that up and finds out that it’s 2 AM where I live, he or she can move on to a customer that lives in a place where it’s noon or 1 PM. If you noticed the customer called at a fairly normal time (say 4 PM their time), try and call them around that time.

Don’t worry about what time for email or regular mail. Depending on your business, you should stick to either just the weeks or the weekends. For example, if you provide business services, send emails on a Tuesday or a Wednesday, giving the customer plenty of time during the week to reply. If you provide more consumer services, try and send the emails on a Friday or Saturday, giving the customer at least Sunday to reply.

Do try to avoid calling during meal times and early mornings (before 10 AM their time is probably not a good idea). Emails and regular mailings is okay at basically any time of the day, but you may want to do a follow-up slightly before when you normally receive replies from a customer (say their replies come around 2 PM EST, send your emails at 1:30 PM EST), that way the communication can be kept more instant.

Part 2: How Long
I’m going to try and do general rules for how long.

  • Sales Inquires: one week, then one after a month or so
  • Customer Service & Support: one week, then maybe after a month or so if the issue was complicated
  • Billing: four to five days and then perhaps before the related billing period
  • Complaint: One to two weeks after the complaint being replied to with an update, three weeks after the first complaint to give a progress report
  • Suggestion: One to two weeks after a reply saying it was good, bad, not possible, etc. and another follow-up a month later to give a progress report
  • Misc. Use your judgment. It depends on the type of question/comment.

This was longer than the last few posts, so I’m getting better. When you do follow-ups is of course important, but if you keep the ultimate golden rule in mind (use common sense), you’ll be fine.

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