A River Runs Through Service


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Standing on the banks of a magnificent river, your imagination can run wild. A mighty river can take you many miles, connecting you with countless ports and people along the way. Rivers are still an important source of commerce transportation. It is the source of electric power in many places. Just, consider of all the stories told about the Mississippi river running over 2000 miles from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans.

After a long rain or heavy storm, a river’s power can quickly erode a solid rock bank, bringing havoc to all in its path. Swollen rivers have toppled large dams and swallowed up entire towns. They can completely alter the landscape in their path.

Today’s customers are wired and dangerous. Like a mighty river, they are wired–connected to hundreds or thousands of customers. They can participate in amazing channels of commerce that link them to goods and services in a fashion a brick and mortar business could never achieve. But, after the storm of disappointment, they can dangerously erode the profits of a business enterprise or even bring down a dictatorial country.

But, wired customers don’t have to act as dangerous customers. Serving with a partnership perspective can turn a frustrated customer ready to go viral into an advocate ready to voice admiration. What can you do to put more partnership into the way you serve today’s wired and potentially dangerous customers?

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group (chipbell.com) and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.


  1. One of the most effective ways to create a partnership with today's wired and potentially dangerous customers is to implement a concept called Engagement Communications.

    Engagement Communications applies high technology communications (mobile, voice mail, e-mail, SMS text messaging) in a way that creates a personal touch. These ongoing two-way dialogues build better customer relationships and create a constant feedback loop that gives businesses deeper insights into their ciustomers' motivations and needs, and offers the opportunity to react in real time.

    For example, a retailer that understands the purchasing habits and preferences of his customers can distribute a text message when a new shipment of a "must-have” item arrives in the store. Or, a credit union wanting to help its customers stay within a monthly budget can distribute e-mail messages alerting them to how close they are to exceeding their limit for groceries, gas and other monthly household expenditures.

    This level of engagement is critical to making a positive impact on the overall customer experience and turning a frustrated customer into an advocate.

    Thank you for the post.

    Scott Zimmerman, President of http://www.televox.com


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