Tales of Customer Service


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Terry O’Reilly (@terryoinfluence) is a Canadian advertising executive and broadcaster who has a program on CBC Radio called ‘Under the Influence‘. It’s a fascinating weekly view into the world of marketing and advertising.

This past weekend he presented a program entitled ‘Tales of Customer Service’. Make time to listen to it because those of us involved in the customer experience business (and that’s all of us…don’t kid yourself) will find it insightful and entertaining. Here’s the link to the site.


A few highlights:

1. Ted L. Nancy wrote a book of letters that he sent to various organizations asking absolutely crazy things like could he bring his own ice machine to the hotel? And could his thousands of ants stay there if they didn’t leave the room? Nancy is a pseudonym for comedian Barry Marder and he details the responses from the companies. It’s enlightening because it shows how they responded, their tone, the language they used, and the kindness they exhibited (or not).

2. David Ogilvy who made the famous statement ‘We don’t walk our customers to the elevator. We walk them to the street.’ Doesn’t that sum up the level of customer service we all aspire to?

3. Danny Meyer, the successful New York restaurateur, who stressed the importance of hiring the right people. He wanted his staff to communicate to customers that the company was on their side. He said cleaning tables could be taught but you can’t teach people to be emphatic. What does this look like? If the customer can’t decide on a dessert, the waiter would bring the second dessert for free. Or the maitre d’ who put a rose on the table where a couple was coming in for their anniversary knowing that was the very same table where the man proposed to his wife.

4. Walt Disney‘s mantra was ‘Give the public everything you can give them.’ There’s an art and science at work in the Magic Kingdom. The art is teaching cast members to be assertively friendly and proactively approaching people who seem confused. The science extends down to where garbage cans are located along with wheelchairs and strollers. It’s not coincidence they’re located where they are. He preached that people remember people, not products – and it shows.

5. Online retailer Zappos topped one billion in sales in only its 8th year of operation. CEO Tony Hsieh stresses his hiring practices. During the 4 weeks of training, potential employees are offered $1,000 to quit. Why? He wants to weed out those who don’t have the philosophy of empathy, kindness, and humility. It was later bumped to $2,000. Virtually nobody takes him up on his offer.

The overarching idea of all these examples is excellent customer service doesn’t cost money, it makes money.

Give a listen and let me know what you think.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Travell
Chris Travell is VP, Strategic Consulting for the Automotive Group of Maritz Research. He is responsible for working with Maritz' Insight Teams to further the understanding and application of the firm's automotive research. He has appeared on numerous television programs and is often quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail and various other publications in regard to issues related to the North American automotive industry. He is the principal contributor to The Ride Blog, Maritz Research's automotive blog.


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