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Provide REAL Customer Service!


Customer Service in America is horrible at best. A few years ago I had the enlightening opportunity to have Don Gallegos come speak to our company here in Utah and he talked about great customer service. Don has a book entitled “Win the Customer, Not the Argument” which is the best customer service eye-opening book I’ve ever read. I’ve made the book the only required reading for employees at work.

Why are companies always establishing new policies that annoy or anger 99.8% of its customers to take care of the .2% or less sometimes of those that may be the offender? Don’t you know that you have to take care of your 99% plus customer base or they’ll go elsewhere? I think we all know that as customers, but corporate america doesn’t believe that. It’s clear that they believe that we won’t go elsewhere so they can treat people however they want.

Here are a few suggestions to offering REAL customer service, not the current customer dis-service that is what we are currently getting from the corporate giants:

  • Don’t feel restricted by policies. If a customer wants a refund after 40 days (10 days past our 30 day refund deadline), just give it to them.
  • Requiring a receipt for a return is ludicrous. You have complex systems for tracking inventory, stocking, pricing, serials, etc. yet for me to return something I need to prove that it came from you by showing you a receipt? Please.
  • When a customer is frustrated over chat or just isn’t getting it, sometimes it helps to give them a call.
  • If a customer is upset, forget the policies. Give them a full refund. Give them something extra. Send them a free gift.
  • If a customer is angry that the product doesn’t work like they thought it would (even if it is a known incompatibility), replace it, better yet give them a new product that works free.
  • If a customer goes out of their way to write an email and thank us, send them a package with something free.
  • Respond quickly to emails and chats. Give customers on the phone the attention that is needed to quickly resolve the problem.

Winning customers centers on the idea that your customers are not just the customers from the moment they walk in the door to your business or visit your Web site, etc. They are the customer 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They are always the customer. Companies have started to treat people as one time customers, and not as life-long customers. People are loyal to themselves first and if you don’t take care of them, they will go elsewhere.


  • People don’t know good service until they get it. When they receive good service they go, “Wow!” and make the choice to switch to the new service provider.
  • The customer is NOT always right, but they are ALWAYS the customer.
  • Don’t take the easy way out and say NO, find a way to say YES.
  • Don’t hide behind a policy, do what’s right.
  • 99.6% of the customer were good compared to those that were bad, why create policies to hurt those good customers?
  • Nordstroms once took back and refunded a pair of tires. Nordstroms doesn’t even sell tires. They won that customer.
  • Just because we make a special situation for one person, doesn’t mean that everyone else will want that too! Make that customer happy.


  • Vote on HN

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  • Roy Atkinson

    In general, I agree: Policies are often written to prevent a very small number of customers from taking advantage of companies in some way. Any time I hear “we can’t” from a customer service person, I know that they work for a company that has a somewhat adversarial perspective. But there are some major companies (LL Bean, American Express, and Zappos, for example) who take service seriously, and who have made the customer the focus. Dealing with small companies, especially those that are locally owned, is usually a very pleasant experience.

    To paint companies with the broad “in America” brush is doing in reverse what companies with bad policies do to customers. The best tactic I’ve personally found is to vote with your wallet, rewarding companies who serve you well, and making a point of letting them-and my friends-know why I choose to do business there.

    Thanks for thinking about customer service!


  • Flavio @

    Great point Roy! I hope that more and more organizations realize that it’s their level of service and being able to connect with the customer that will keep them relevant in the future.

    The millennial generation is a new base of consumers. Millennials want to CONNECT and ENGAGE with organizations and they won’t do that if EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE isn’t offered.

  • Michel Falcon

    Hi Flavio,

    Thanks for putting together this post. Your bullet points were great. In regards to the responding to email, chat etc. a best practice is to set a SLA. I’m always surprised when I visit billion dollar brands and they don’t have many SLA’s in regards to customer service.

    Thanks again.


  • themanagr

    Great point Michel. I find it ironic that many of these billion dollar brands will require SLAs from smaller vendors for services and then just bury their own service contacts deep within their sites or push users through endless mazes of phone menus.

    But SLAs are an awesome way to stay on top of service and can also be used as a marketing/feature for your service (e.g. EMAIL RESPONSES IN UNDER 1 HOUR. GUARANTEED!).

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  • Mtoelen

    Great piece !! love it.  Story about Nordstrom is that at that particular place there used to be a garage  (this story is famous with coaches all over the world ;-)  what a service !   Your article is written in a very american style (no bad intentions in that comment) do realise that in other countries (let alone continents) people react differently.  all together.. I wish there would be a little bit more of this american mentality in my country.

    • themanagr

      Thanks for the feedback! Yes, it’s an american style from a customer experience coach in America. But as I’ve said it before, what we share is really ment to inspire us to think more about the customer experience.

      Then, as we’re thinking more about customer service and customer experience, we can customize service to meet the needs and wants of customers within our individual locations with its norms and customs.

      At the end of the day, it’s about thinking more about your customers, understanding them, and doing the things that will keep them coming back.

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