• 11:32:12 pm on May 13, 2008 | 6
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    I read a lot of blogs to get an idea of what’s going on around the world and the industry, probably the same you do. I prefer, instead of taking the ideas at their worth, to extrapolate ideas from other areas into customer service – shake the core beliefs if you may – to improve our current situation and create a better system. Seth Godin has two posts in his blog that got me thinking. He talks about how to improve the role of marketing for an organization, but I could not stop thinking of the implications for customer service… and the power of implementing these two ideas:

    Make big promises; over-deliver

    Connect like-minded people

    We are so obsessed with measuring customer satisfaction that we don’t take the time to think what we could do to replace it or even ignore it. Forget trying to get to 70-75% of satisfaction, ignore the NPS (net promoter score) and the likelihoods to do something – we are talking about long-term guarantees your customers will remain loyal and continue to bring you their business. Two steps to achieve it, but it is a great revolution from where we are. Ready?

    First, over-deliver. Often I have expounded on the virtues of SLAs (service level agreements) and the place they have in customer service: managing customer expectations of service by setting the standard. I said, as much as I could, that SLAs are external guidelines – not internal. Our internal guidelines and processes should always, always be set to over-deliver what we promise. We should never, ever simply just do the best we can – we should always do better That is what impresses customers, creates loyalty, and provides stickiness to the relationships. In this time and age, it takes no more than two seconds to move to the next provider and leave the current one behind. Over-delivering is THE differentiating factor you need to stick out among them and to retain your customers.

    The second question that comes up, what do you do with your customers when you have them? You know how customer relationship works: what have you done for me lately. You can over-deliver only so many times before the customers get acclimated, your competitors copy you, and the novelty is gone. That is the second punch, the one that knocks them down and keeps them coming. We talked about using communities for collaborative customer service in the past, customers helping customers, but how about for customer retention? Yes, it is a crazy idea – but so crazy it just might work. You build the communities to bring customers to your site, and use it to make them stay… not just for customer service or collaboration, but simply to stay. Connect like-minded people and see what happens.

    Final words: don’t just nod your head in agreement (or disagreement), don’t scream at the computer – it won’t make me any smarter or more reasonable. Try this advice… it is not hard to do, and can give you the simple results you need. Oh yeah, let me know how it goes (or, if you already did it, how it went). If you don’t know where to start – or are not comfortable, let’s talk…



  • Haim Toeg 4:05 am on May 20, 2008 | # | Reply


    Interesting and well written entry, but I would like to make a few comments:
    1. Customer satisfaction is a trailing metric and is impossible to influence directly. It should not be scrapped, because it represents the cumulative results of the organization’s efforts as seen by the customer base. It is impossible to execute to a customer satisfaction metric, organizations must execute to an operational metric
    2. SLAs are indeed external, static and never good enough for customers, therefore organizations that keep on executing to their SLA will see customer sat slowly declining (as you correctly say, what was goo yesterday is not so good today).
    3. The key is in building a set of internal metrics that represent components of the SLA and setting goals (quarterly or monthly) that represent gradual and on-going improvement. In other words, there is no end-state, there is only the goal to always do better than we did before.


  • Esteban Kolsky 1:06 am on May 21, 2008 | # | Reply


    Thanks for your comments and for reading. You make some very interesting valid points… yet there is one of your comments I’d like to explore further.

    When you say you cannot scrap customer satisfaction, I understand what you are saying and where you are coming from, but I don’t agree with your statement completely. I have been proposing for some time to avoid using customer satisfaction as a metric for, if anything else, the fact that is a fleeting sentiment, which cannot be captured properly in time and cannot be measured in relation to the interaction. There are countless variables that affect and distort the actual feeling of satisfaction for a customer, that even 30 seconds delay in capturing the score could have a sizable difference. Even if we were to capture it at the proper time and be able to measure adequately — it is still not comparable to another customer’s satisfaction! For example, you and I could go out to dinner, have the same meal, and different opinions on our satisfaction with it — even though it was the same meal, at the same time, in the same place! Now, extrapolate that thousands it not millions of customers — you get the idea.

    I propose using effectiveness metrics to measure success or failure in reaching and helping customers (e.g. did you get what you wanted? was it timely? was it complete? was the agent well behaved? etc). These metrics are not fleeting, are not arbitrary, and — the best part – they can be answered yes or no, giving way to potential campaigns and actions to follow up negative comments and appease customers.

    Anyway, you get the idea (and I don’t have to write a book) why I propose to walk away from efficiency metrics to control behavior, and more into effectiveness.

    What do you think? Am I missing something?

  • Haim Toeg 3:48 pm on May 22, 2008 | # | Reply


    I always enjoy reading your posts and find them educating and interesting. In my mind, customer satisfaction is an index synthesized from the answer to the ‘are you pleased’ question, as well as ‘did we deliver what you needed’ ‘was it all you needed’ ‘did it help you solve the problem’, etc. So, to your point, customer sentiment is important as it often impacts renewal decisions, which is a key reason for customer service to begin with. On the other hand, it is far from being the only metric you’ll ever need.

    As far as efficiency metrics, I believe they are an important measurement to monitor, but not necessarily to manage to. You want to know how your organization is operating, you want to understand deviations from the standard and you can definitely use those to improve the way your organization operates.

    During discussion with a client I used the analogy of an old sportscar dashboard – there are many gauges there, but you only manage to two of them: speed and RPM, the others are there mostly to tell you if there’s anything wrong with your engine.

    Makes sense?

  • Esteban Kolsky 5:23 pm on May 23, 2008 | # | Reply

    I like the sports car analogy, might just use it going forward 🙂

    I agree in essence with what you are saying… but I think we need to break the dependency on efficiency metrics to try to justify everything we do.

    As we move to a customer-focused, feedback-driven model efficiency does not matter. I would like to do away with efficiency metrics for business, simply use them at the technical level for capacity planning, and for justifying the work and resources needed.

    Alas, I don’t think i will ever get that 🙂

  • The Uselessness of Granularity in Feedback Management « eVergance Blog 1:20 pm on October 14, 2008 | # | Reply

    […] satisfaction and loyalty (you could click on these links for my previous rants on loyalty and satisfaction). The concept of giving people choices is good, as it creates way for them to express opinions on […]

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