“We’ve Made This Customer’s Life Hell”: There Are Fun, Easy Ways to Give Your Agents Everything They Need to Know


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It still amazes me how many customer service operations still do not display complete purchase history and contact history with their customers. Hasn’t this been available for more than 10 years now? What might be new is adding IVR and web hits to classic inbound phone, email, and chat contacts—maybe even more important since a failed IVR or web self-service interaction means that the 1st call or email or chat already represents the 2nd contact—so achieving “first contact resolution” is already impossible.

So if you’re not displaying purchase and contact history for your customer-facing agents, do it! Soon!

But there are fun ways to present these histories, using technology even more to power up customer management. One way is to add how important each customer is to your company (after all, “all customers are not created equal”, as I’ve been preaching more >15 years now). Your CRM system can easily add a field that shows a rosette or star showing that this customer is really important, or a down-arrow to show that this customer is on the “watch list”. Accompanying these simple displays, you can also provide tips and hints for that customer’s next interaction, such as “offer our new fangled widget” or “take extra time to learn how she wants to get alerts from us.”

One of my favorite fun ways to use technology is to add one of three “faces” alongside each agent-handled customer contact: a smiley-face we’ve all seen (?) in green, a neutral face in yellow, or a frowning face in red. Agents can select one of these faces after the phone call, email or chat session, preparing the next agent who handles that contact what s/he might expect. When an agent opens the screen for a customer with his contact history annotated with one of these faces, s/he gets an immediate handle what’s happened in the past—for example, a column of red faces says “this customer is a pain” or, more introspectively, “wow, we’ve certainly made their life difficult”. In either case, the agent can provide an extra measure of help to try to change that face from red to green, from unhappy to pleased.

Neither one of these fun ways is expensive, but they will help to power up your customer management. So what’s stopping you?

Bill Price

Bill Price is the President of Driva Solutions (a customer service and customer experience consultancy), an Advisor to Antuit, co-founded the LimeBridge Global Alliance, chairs the Global Operations Council, teaches at the University of Washington and Stanford MBA programs, and is the lead author of The Best Service is No Service and Your Customer Rules! Bill served as Amazon.com's first Global VP of Customer Service and held senior positions at MCI, ACP, and McKinsey. Bill graduated from Dartmouth (BA) and Stanford (MBA).


  1. Hi Bill,

    Your color coded face process is brilliant. It helps the agent know what they maybe up against the next time the customer calls and can motivate them to change a yellow or red to green. If handled well, it also can let the customer know that they personally matter. Emotional experience tend to be triggered by similar situation (calling the same company again after a bad experience). Handled right this would not only defuse the negative, it would elevate the sense that their relationship matters to the company. Win-win.


    John I. Todor, Ph.D.
    Author of Get with it! The Hands-on Guide to Using Web 2.0 in Your Business.


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