Monthly Mash, Powerless Customers | Hands in Handcuffs

Monthly Mash and The Powerless Customer

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

Volume 24: October 2013

Thoughts on the Customer: The Powerless Customer

Despite what you read about empowered consumers and the power of social media, it has been my experience that customers feel more powerless than ever before. If fact, I would contend that a sizable portion of the customer feedback being expressed through social media is a response to a general feeling of powerlessness consumers have in the modern marketplace.

Anyone with a storefront has had customers threaten to “tell everyone how bad you suck” or “to rip you a new one on Facebook.” Many of these reactions are desperate attempts to exert some form of control or power in situations where the customer feels he has none.

We can all relate.

Let’s face it; companies have gotten larger and in many cases less personal. Who among us has not had an experience with a government agency or a utility at some point in our life where we felt completely frustrated and powerless? Like we were at the mercy of uncaring employees who seemingly had never been coached on customer service in their lives?

Monthly Mash, Powerless Customers | Hands in HandcuffsThat’s what I thought.

Over the past 50 years, however, more and more of the economy has trended towards firms with the size and, in some cases, dominance of utilities and government. Sure, many large organizations provide excellent customer experiences, but in the aggregate, organizations are larger and more impersonal now.

The result, in my humble opinion, is that customers feel more powerless than ever.

Whether you are a small business or work for a large corporation, understanding that many customers feel powerless and are sensitive to experiences that reinforce this feeling is one of the keys to delivering a Hero-ClassTM Customer Experience.

In fact, being powerless is one of our 7 Service Triggers (more about these below).

So, what can you do about this feeling of powerlessness in customers?

The antidote to customers feeling powerless is more about an attitude than about a specific technique. It begins with awareness that this dynamic exists in customers and then must be followed with a focused effort to provide customers exceptional levels of communication and attention.

Your customers need to know that they have a champion that is working for them. Your customers need to know that they are not numbers. And your customers need to know that they are not alone.

Make sure your customers do not feel like they are at your mercy; instead, make sure they feel like you have placed yourself at theirs.



Free Customer Service Webinar | Mastering the 7 Service TriggersOur customers come to us pre-programmed and often pre-programmed to expect the worst. Over many years of observing customer behavior, I have identified 7 service triggers that drive the majority of negative customer reactions — these are automatic emotional triggers that your customers possess and that you must understand in order to provide a hero-class experience.

To help you better understand these 7 service triggers, where they come from and how to best deal with them, we are offering a free webinar on Thursday, January 9 at 1:00pm EDT. Mastering the 7 Service Triggers will provide you an in-depth look at customers’ psychological conditioning and will provide you with effective, actionable techniques you can use to prevent the 7 service triggers from being “pulled” in your organization.

Check out our blog post on Thursday to learn more about the 7 Service Triggers and to sign up for your free webinar.


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.

Coming technological changes will define the future of the customer experience in ways that we can and cannot see from our current vantage point. In their book, Age of Context, authors Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, look at the 5 key ways in which technology will create a new age of contextual experiences. In Age of Context, Future of Experience we shared our thoughts on the book and the impact of context on the future of the customer experience.


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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