Has It All Been Said?

Sometimes I just get tired of talking.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love a good banter as much as the next guy.  The intellectual waltz.  The idea shuttlecock, batted around until it’s frayed.

But I just got to thinking the other day, when it comes to customer service and the customer experience, could we maybe use a little less talk and a whole boat-load more do?

Has it all been said?  Maybe it’s the fact that not a whole heck of a lot of people are listening?  Or, maybe doing is just really hard.  What’s the cliche?  Talk is cheap?  Not necessarily.  There are a lot of smart people with a lot of smart ideas.  Forgive me the gratuitous plug, but tune into Twitter on any given Tuesday night at 9pm to the #custserv chat.  There is no shortage of great ideas and great advice from some keen thinkers.  My friend Stan Phelps has a whole site dedicated to real examples of unique customer experiences. 

What I’d like to read more about is stories of customer service actually reinvented.  Where are the case studies of companies that have listened to some of the great ideas available for free in places like that, and have put a plan together, implemented it and delivered value where little existed prior?

There’s a reason the web is filled with references to Zappos, Wegmans, Virgin, USAA and Apple.


  1. What company wouldn't want to be added to the list of companies you have referenced? It's not that hard. All you have to do is emulate them. They've paved the way for EVERY company to do what they do. Why aren't more following suit?

  2. Barry

    After reading your post I read this one: http://richardsnow.ventanaresearch.com/2012/09/17/customer-feedback-processes-lagging-in-companies-today

    It's interesting research, but in contrast it's recommending more technology, more insights, more processes…

    When I ran a services department (with revenue and customer retention targets) I tried both approaches. With hindsight I'm embarrassed that I wasted so much time and effort before learning that simple, responsive action is best.

    I hope many are emboldened to act first and analyze later as a result of your commendably practical recommendations.

  3. Thanks for the link, Guy, I guess that was my not-so-subtle point. I hear so many customer service professionals longing to "be like Zappos". And while I'm one of the biggest fans of the company, their customer service reputation is not earned through black magic or some secret code that requires years of analysis to crack. It's literally based on three things:

    1. put your 800 number front and center, everywhere
    2. offer live agent support 24/7/365
    3. offer 365 day returns

    …and create a passionate culture and hire for customer service and dont measure AHT.

    Its just that simple. that may or may not work for other companies. But it works for them.. Each company needs to figure out what works for them and their customers and just go do it. Don't confuse activity with accomplishment. And by God, NEVER confuse analysis with accomplishment.

    thanks so much for the comment

  4. …oh and on Zappos. They also have a remarkable logistics and supply chain model that allows this level of service.

  5. Barry,

    You are right, as the King would say "A little less conversation a little more action"

    My personal take (for what it is worth) is that most senior executives are ruled by the stock market and are too short sighted and short termist to ever pull off what Steve Jobs or Jeff Bezos have.

    So there is lots of action, but most of it short term and futile

    I feel better having got that off my chest


  6. thats the challenge Randi. Very few companies have been able to execute even such an emulation strategy, much less create something unique to their business and their customers. thanks for the comment

  7. the interesting thing is creating shareholder value does not have to be mutually exclusive to creating customer value. Isn't the sources of any company's revenue its customers? (notice I said revenue not income or profit). Yes, accountants can create shareholder value but so can customer advocates

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