Customer service matters as much as innovation

This past week I read two amazing customer service stories. First, there’s Sarah Green’s story on how she left her friends house keys with an Amtrak employee because she forgot to deliver them herself before she left for Boston. The Amtrak employee delivered the keys of course.

Then there’s Rick Broida who’s two HP desktop PC’s died within two weeks of each other, and ended up getting both PC’s repaired for free without a warranty.

Go ahead and read them, they’re well worth it.

While both stories are shocking, it’s a shame they have to be shocking. Why can’t these types of stories be the norm?

It’s a matter of attitude

Let me tell you a story about a friend who got her laptop robbed while she was paying at a 7 Eleven in Mexico. My friend stopped at a 7 Eleven to get a Gatorade after she left the gym. While she was paying someone broke one of the windows of her car and stole her laptop. My friend didn’t notice that the window was broken and that her laptop had been stolen until she got into her car.

Apparently someone followed her there and waited for the opportune moment to make their move. What’s mind boggling is that all this happened in front of people who were putting gas into their cars. Nobody said anything. My friend called me immediately to let me know what had just happened. She also called the police. I got there 30 – 40 minutes after the incident but the police arrived about 10 minutes after me.

What’s interesting about this is the attitude of one of the police officers when he got out of the car. I could clearly see the ‘oh I came all the way here for this!’ look in his face and that was clearly transmitted to my friend. While I understand it’s a simple robbery (and who knows how many they see everyday), they still have to show some empathy. The officer at least made to take my friends information while assuring her that they would put out a warning.

People remember the details

Our job is to serve and for the most part, people remember the little details. The stuff that doesn’t get the most attention.

For example, read what former basketball player Toni Kukoc has to say about what he remembers about his playing days in Chicago:

“Every once in a while, like if ESPN shows a game, I’ll stop and watch a quarter or two,” said Kukoc, now 42 and still living in the same suburban Highland Park home he and Renata, his wife of 19 years, purchased soon after they first arrived in Chicago in ’93. “But to me it was fun when it was happening, and when I see stuff like that, like when I’m looking at the rings right now, I’m not thinking championships, I’m thinking about all the travels, all the practices, the little jokes, the late dinners and different stuff that happened. It’s the little details you remember.”


As stated above, our job is to serve and in doing so we are directly responsible of creating new memories for others. And if we’re conscious enough to remember this, we can make sure that the memories we help create for others are memorable.

So if people remember the details, why is it so hard for service providers to do a better job of acknowledging the details?

Well let’s see, the grand majority are ignorant to this principle but that doesn’t mean you have to be too. While you may think that this only applies offline, it’s the same thing online.

Here’s an example, read what one person remembers from an online customer service interaction she had with Comcast Customer Care Support:

“My first example of “customer service” with Twitter was also from Comcast. This was about 4 years ago and I have never forgotten it. Now, to do fair, it wasn’t actually customer support, but rather “customer care”. Comcast made me feel special by noticing a tweet I made and reaching out to me.

It doesn’t get any more simple than that last sentence!

Customer service matters as much as innovation

Yes it does. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, it matters how you play the game. Customers remember how they are treated as much as if you are an innovative company. They remember the overall experience. The little details that go into every interaction you have with customers makes a lasting impression in their minds and hearts. Forever!

They don’t say ‘I want to do business with that company because it’s the most innovative’!

I know, I know, I keep bringing this stuff up over and over again (see here, here and here). But seriously it’s just so simple to treat others as you’d like to be treated that it’s a shame these stories aren’t more common.

Imagine a company (Maybe Zappos?) who measured their success on the number of ‘thank yous’ they received? Why can’t it be you?


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