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JOS: “Seven steps to remarkable customer service”

February 21, 2007

Joel has written a new article on how to provide remarkable customer service, service so good that people remark on it. It’s depressing to think about the state of customer (dis-)service being provided by many companies. The main problem is that business’ see customer service as a cost rather than as an opportunity to interact with the very people that justify their existence. It’s amazing what a change in perspective can do.

It’s a great article but I’m going to comment on the points that Joel makes.

1. Fix everything two ways

Very much agreed. Every problem has 2 solutions you need to find: how to fix the problem and how to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Joel also provides an interesting opposition to outsourcing your customer service responsibilities: they can’t and won’t help fix problems in your product to make it better.
2. Suggest blowing out the dust

This is a very Dale Carneige-ish technique to getting a customer to do something simple without offending them.

3. Make customers into fans

It’s a pity more companies don’t seize this opportunity.
4. Take the blame

This helps to diffuse most tense situations but it’s really (for men) hard to do, which leads to the next point.

5. Memorize awkward phrases

Awkward phrases: “I’m sorry”, “It’s my fault” or if you’re into sports: “My bad” 😛
6. Practice puppetry

Not quite sure I agree with this point. I can see how’s it’s useful to be emotionally detached from certain situations but the notion of “puppets” seems very manipulative.

7. Greed will get you nowhere

I think most companies have restrictive refund policies as a means to survive. But ironically, having a very liberal refund policy can help software companies thrive.

8. (Bonus!) Give customer service people a career path

This is a good management practice. You want your front-line customer service people to stay happy and friendly which is hard to do if you feel like you’re stuck in some dead-end job.


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