Customer Service and Its 7 Sins

7SinsEverything you do in business is marketing.

The forms you ask your customers to fill out, the time they wait in
line, the confusing phone recoding systems — all messages from your

What do they say about you?

Too few organizations are starting to pay attention to those experiences and coming up with new solutions.

Traditional ways of thinking prevent us from divining the most
accurate—and elegant—of solutions to any problem solving situation.

Can customer service become elegant? Is your business doing penance for the 7 sins it commits when it comes to customers?

(1.) Shortcutting

Making a beeline for the solution without first analyzing the root
cause of the problem could lead you to drawing the wrong conclusions.

Our brain is trained to jump to conclusions, to take shortcuts, and
experience compounds that trait.

However, it is also experience that
teaches us that root cause analysis is helpful to know which questions
you're answering.

Incidentally, when you start thinking about problems differently,
you also come up with entirely new ways of doing things, which may lead
to significant innovation in customer care.

(2.) Blind spots

Part of our mental narrative, our assumptions given previous
experience. We fill in to complete our existing mental patterns. If
your part of the conversation is pre-filled, where does that leave the
other party? 

What assumptions do you have in approaching customer calls and
customer service situations? How are these assumption preventing you
from actually addressing the issue?

(3.) Not invented here

By nature, we don't trust other people's solutions. Period. See if you
identify yourself with this situation. You have an idea that you think
will save the company costs in the long run and will make customers
really happy. You propose the idea and it falls flat.

Two months later, a consultant comes in to work with the top team
and they come up with the very same idea… and this time it gets
adopted, because it was the top group's idea and it took time and an
investment with a third party to flesh it out.

(4.) Satisficing

One of the challenges of our times — there is no incubation period for ideas,
we need to implement right away. In case you were wondering, satisfice
is the combination of satisfy and suffice, a term economist and Nobel
laureate Herbert A. Simon coined in his 1957 Models of Man to describe
the typical human decision-making process by which we go with the first
option that offers an acceptable payoff.

Is your customer service a base minimum requirement kind of
activity? Are you asking the right questions or trying to provide the
quickest answers?

(5.) Downgrading

A close cousin of the previous one, with a twist: a formal
revision of the goal or situation. Here you twist and sift the facts to
suit your solution. Or you provide a “revised estimate" that gets you
off the hook from providing a real resolution.

When you downgrade the problem, you have the comfort of thinking
that you can do that with the solution as well. That is rarely the

(6.) Complicating

Our brains are wired to make things more complicated that they are. We
add – cost and complexity – naturally and consistently. The first
instinct when someone gives us a problem to solve is to start
compounding it with information that leads us astray.

We hoard, store, collect, and accumulate behavior.

(7.) Stifling

The most unproductive and destructive of all sins. It can
prevent someone from trying at all. In some organizations, most ideas
are killed before they even get a chance to be shared. See if you've
heard this before – this is not the way we do things here; that's never
been done; customers won't go for that; we don't have time to do it.

The best one of all might be — we're going through a recession right now… ba-bing, idea killed.


What is your favorite way of killing ideas? How have your ideas been
killed most frequently? Are you the number one person responsible for
your ideas not getting done?

Olenty of excues exist to openly say no, or to avoid thinking differently altogether.

Are businesses
still wrestling with this one? It seems to me they are. And next week
we'll talk about the drain on your resources from from poorly engineered
programs designed to strong arm buyers into serial dis-loyalty.


[edited from archives]

[image of 7 colors for 7 days by Davic]


Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.

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