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6 Ridiculous Customer Service Clichés – The RidicuList

Published: April 2, 2013 | By: Michael Pace

Over the past month, I have been keeping up with some great articles from peers and thought leaders, check out the #Custserv, #CXO, and #CCTR on twitter for most of the content.  However, some posts make me shake my head in disappointment.  This past week, my fuse dwindled and commanded me to speak my mind.  They do say that frustration is the mother of invention, right?  I am so sick of hearing the following ridiculous customer service clichés and am losing faith in the people writing about them.

Here is the RidiculousList:

  • Inspiring customer service by telling your organization to follow the Golden Rule
  • Everyone is responsible for customer service
  • Make your customer service center a profit center
  • Customer Service is the new Marketing
  • The Customer is always right
  • Anything related to the words Big Data

Whew, I feel better already.  Let’s look at the ridiculousness individually:

The Golden Rule

Everyone, regardless of faith, has heard the cliché “The Golden Rule: Do onto others as you would want done onto you” or some version of the phrase.  This is the lazy cop out methodology of helping your support or customer service staff help your customers.  When you say this to your organization or your customer service representatives, it is essentially saying “Keep doing what you are doing, because you believe you are doing your best, and I do not know how else to help you.”  Obviously, the intent is good, but its impact is weak.  If you want your organization to provide exceptional service, you need to detail what exceptional service is, in detail.  A recent article from The DiJulius Group does a nice job explaining some simple ways to set standards of service. If you need further info, the beacon of setting standards is the Ritz Carlton, and their list of standards.

Everyone is responsible for customer service

Another well intended cliché that means absolutely nothing to your organization.  If it’s everyone’s responsibility, than nobody is responsible for it.  Or, I could make the argument that Finance is everyone’s responsibility, or branding, or facility management, or security, or everything else.  Again, similar to the Golden Rule, it has no teeth, and nothing in your organization will change beyond the 20 minutes after you have pronounced this to everyone.  Yes, in many ways, we are all responsible for the health of our organizations, but again you need set up specific processes, governance and outlets for individuals to execute, and reward the change management.

Make your customer service center a profit center

What is the primary purpose of every customer service organization? It’s retention, and specifically retention of your best customers.  If you are doing customer service correctly, you already are a profit center.  Customer service provides and adds value to all aspects of customer lifetime value.  It significantly reduces cost of customer acquisition (referrals and positive word of mouth), retention (obvious), Average Spend Per Unit/Time period (a well educated customer spends more), and overall profitability (better engaged customers use a variety of your support channels, specifically your self-service channels).  Yes, you can add top line value or revenue through cross-sells and up-sells, but unless your customer service is great, focus on your primary goal.

Customer Service is the new Marketing

I am sure the first wheel maker didn’t use direct mail.  It was all about word of mouth networking regarding the customer experience.  Let me be clear, there is a big difference between Customer Experience and Customer Service.  Customer Service is one aspect of the overall Customer Experience.  The only thing the statement “Customer Service is the new Marketing” shows is that you haven’t paid enough attention to your customer service area that has been around as long as your promotions department.  Stop using such stupid expressions.

The Customer is always right

Another dumb statement.  That’s like saying that I am always right or that you are always right.  Hopefully, all of your customers are people, and therefore, are not always right.  Now, if you are or have ever been married, you should know that while your spouse may be incorrect, his or her feelings are right.  You cannot argue with people’s feelings.  It’s their truth, and you must respect that.  If your customer feels wronged, their feelings are their own, and are correct.  They may be misunderstood, miscommunicated to, ignorant, or a little crazy.  Either way, you need to make sure you and your teams respect people’s feelings, and get away from right and wrong.

Anything related to the words Big Data

Data is data.  You cannot be Big Dead or Big Pregnant.  It is just information.  It was around 25 years ago, and will be around for another 250.  It’s like the new buzz word to be sold.  If you use it in my presence, be prepared for a slap on the back of the head.  Don’t get me wrong, having lots of information about a customer is great.  Well, it’s great if you are able to do something with it.  Focus on what you need to serve your customer.  It may be simple qualitative feedback from interviews or questions like “Do you trust our company”.  Don’t get wrapped up or intimidated by a buzz word.

Customer service leaders, it is time to stop talking ridiculously, and remember what your goals are, what your purpose is and how to deliver it.  My apologies if this was not 100% SFW (safe for work), but if it wasn’t, you may want to reassess where you work.  It is good to be back, and taking on the world’s ridiculousness.

If you think I am being ridiculous, feel free to comment.

If you are with me, stand up and let’s put those talking heads where they should be.


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