Micah Solomon is regarded as one of the new gurus of customer service excellence. After my review of Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon, Micah contacted me and was gracious enough to send me a care package that included his latest book high-tech, high-touch customer service.
Normally I review books either by reading them in their entirety or by reading the 5-page summary provided via getAbstract. Regardless of which reading method I pick, I normally provide a summary of each chapter as part of my review. Micah's new book is right up my alley! At the end of each chapter, he provides a summary under the heading of "and your point is?" Since the author has beaten me at my own game, I decided to take another tact. I am also a fan of Jessica Hagy's Indexed blog where she provides insight in simple graphics that would fit on any standard index card.
I thought I'd try my hand at something similar for each of the 13 chapters.
Today's Change Customer: Making Lovemaking Difficult
"Self-service is a giant trend, and companies that ignore it, pursue it reluctantly, or violate basic laws will be left in the dust. [Despite this,] don't make customers search for information — bring it to them right away." [page 20]
The Customer Remains the Same: Everything That Isn't New Under the Sun
"Definitions of perfection, caring delivery, timeliness, and (when things go wrong) responsiveness of resolution are all moving targets, but make the effort to hit them right, and you'll provide true customer value." [page 30]
Timeless Customer Service Done Right -- and Wrong: Mastery versus Catastrophe
Each of these 12 points is worth its weight in customers. [page 39]
A Google of Apples a Day: The Art of Anticipation in the Modern World of Customer Service
Customers expect a certain level of anticipatory service in technology-driven service — the number of clicks they expect to invest before arriving at a solution diminishes every month. [page 62] Apple, Google, and Netflix are shining examples.
Anticipatory Customer Service: Your Culture
"...Any business advantage you pride yourself on can be copied by a competitor... The culture of your company is an exception to this rule." [page 63] Make sure every employee's first inclination is to be a problem solver instead of just a policy-follower.
Anticipatory Customer Service: Your People
Hire people with the right customer service attitude, and then train them on your technology. [page 93] Technical prowess is not enough to get the customer support job done. The employee must be the proper fit within the organization.
Sangria, Sippy Cups, and Jesse Ventura: Autonomy Versus Standards
Organizations should provide standards, accompanied by the reasoning behind them, but autonomy in how they are carried out. [page 102]
The Rise of Self-Service: A Boon to Your Customers -- But Only If You Do It Right
"Self-service can't be set and then forgotten. It's an endless work in progress, and processes are required to regularly monitor it." [page 120] Even in self-service organizations, employees make the difference in customer service.
Technological Change and Disabled Customers: A True Opportunity, If You Avoid the Missteps
"Technology that's necessary for people with disabilities also makes life easier for the able-bodied." [page 126]
Shoulder Your Customer's Burden (and Make Sure You're Not Adding to It!)
Know how your customers want to be reached, get to them first (before they feel disconnected), automate contact as much as possible, but also give them a way to talk to a human. [pages 140-141]
Anti-Social Media: Fears and Hazards of the New Landscape
"Social media is most dangerous to your company when your organizational structure and culture are set up in a way that keeps you from providing one-on-one service and responses to issues — in real time, with great flexibility." [page 148] The adage "a stitch in time saves nine" applies to customer relations.
Social Service: Principles for Social Media Customer Service
"Just as your brand is only as good as your weakest employee, customer service is only as good as your weakest channel of communication. when a concern is voiced online, the magnitude of a social media uproar increases exponentially with the length of the company response time." [pages 157-158]
Listening: Your Ears Are Your Most Important Technology
"One of the best areas for enhanced e-listening and for creating anticipatory magic is where the lines intersect between electronic systems and human service, provided you have the two working in harmony." [page 177] Sorry Gary Collins, no sixth sense magic here.
This book was fantastic. It was so relevant to what we do at Autodesk. We have email. We have discussion forums. We have blogs. We have Facebook and Twitter accounts. We post videos on YouTube.
All of these mediums are ways that we can listen and interact with our customers. Our daughter, Stephanie, works in PR for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts (blog). I am sending my copy to her.
Customer contact is alive in the lab.