Customer Service Rorschach Test | Cartoon of Person Deciding Between Two People

Monthly Mash and a Customer Service Rorschach Test

Welcome to the Monthly Mash, a mashup of tools, tales and tips on customer service and the customer experience from around the blogosphere.

Volume 20: June 2013

Thoughts on the Customer: A Customer Service Rorschach Test

Here’s a fun game to play with your team. Ask them to fill in the blank with the first word that pops into their head.

Customers are _____.

I learned this trick from a friend who was a psychology major in college. The test he gave me was to fill in the phrase people are _____ with the first word that came into my head.

Customer Service Rorschach Test | Cartoon of Person Deciding Between Two PeopleIn this test, the respondent is not supposed to think, just to say the first word that pops into their head. If the test is being done with multiple people, each person should be isolated; otherwise, everyone else whom hears the question will have time to think of an answer.

The theory is that the immediate answer, too fast to be filtered, gives you the most honest answer and indicates your general outlook towards people (and life). So, if you answer people are fun you might be a little more positive than if you answer people are jerks.

In that spirit, asking your team members to fill in the phrase customers are ____ might provide you some interesting insights.

Let me say for the record that based on the last few decades of research in psychology and brain function, the answer to this single question is certainly not scientific proof of a person’s outlook. So, please, do not fire someone if their answer is “customers are a pain-in-the-ass.”

That being said, if the weakest service provider on your team replies with customers are jerks, perhaps there is something deeper in their outlook that is causing them to deliver poor service. The answer to the question, positive or negative, can provide a nice pretext for exploring a team member’s attitudes towards customers.

As for me, I’ll just end by saying that customers are awesome (except when they’re not)!

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

A collection of the best posts about customer service and the customer experience we read this past month.

Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I liked best.

Many of the inputs that help create customer expectations are outside the direct control of your organization. In 9 Keys to Managing Customer Expectations, we discuss ways to manage the influences on customer expectations over which you have control.

NOTE: Due to the holiday here in the U.S., we will not have a blog post this Thursday. Have a great 4th of July, and we will see you next Monday!


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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2 replies
  1. Elizabeth Maness
    Elizabeth Maness says:

    Adam, this is an awesome post and I really appreciate you sharing my article here as well! I’ll have to agree customers are awesome.. except when they aren’t! 😉 I think one thing people that don’t own a company forget.. without customers the company and their JOB will not exist!

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! It was my pleasure to include your post; I very much enjoyed it.

      That is so true — there is often a disconnect between the front lines and the importance of happy customers to everyone’s well being. The good thing is that in most cases that gap can be bridged through education and training.


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