Through The Past Darkly Album Cover

Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and Epic CustServ Fail

Volume 3: December 2011 Mashup

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


The Month in Customer Service Blogging

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


Two New Blogs in the CustServ Sphere


For anyone who missed it, one of the worst examples of customer service on digital record blew up during the last week of December. I considered writing about it myself, as I really did not find anyone with a customer service focus opining, but at this point, the thing has been done to death.

The story really shows how outrageously bad customer service can turn into a PR nightmare. Below are a few of the better pieces I read on the subject.



My Key Takeaways from this Epic CustServ Fail:

  1. When dealing with customer service, check your pride at the door.
  2. The single best way to understand the dark side of the Internet is to reread William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Not joking.


Someone Was Listening

Sometimes the most popular post from the previous month; sometimes just the one I am most proud of.


Thoughts on the Customer

In 1969, the Rolling Stones released the album Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), a compilation record released after the death of original Stones member Brian Jones. The album had a very cool octagonal album cover (which I used to have), and on the inside flap was an epitaph to Brian Jones that has always stayed with me.

“When this you see, remember me,
and bear me in your mind.
Let all the world say what they may,
speak of me as you find.”

Through The Past Darkly Album CoverThe sentiment is appealing — for who does not want to be judged individually and not through the colored perceptions of others? But in business, the sentiment is also a pipe dream.

In today’s information-soaked marketplace, your customers come to you preconditioned and prepared for the experience they expect.

Whether their perceptions were formed through social media, your own marketing, or their best friend, almost no one enters your business as a blank canvas on which you can write the story you wish to tell.

Your customer might arrive with a positive view, in which case there are unknown expectations you have to meet (and hopefully exceed). Or the customer might arrive with a negative view and for whatever reason (convenience, morbid curiosity, etc.)  have decided to give you a chance anyway, meaning you now have to overcome being judged through a lens that tints everything with a negative light.

Customers will judge us through their own experiences, but those experiences are already being shaped long before the customer gets to us. There is little we can do to change that fact, but we can recognize it as a truth of the customer experience and adapt to its reality.


 I hope you enjoyed the Monthly Mash. Please join others in sharing it using the social share buttons below.


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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10 replies
  1. Kaarina Dillabough
    Kaarina Dillabough says:

    Thanks for the tip of the hat to my “buzzwords” post at ahopefulsign…I appreciate that! And I look forward to reading all of the other mashup links too! Continued success, my friend, as you move to your “new” site…and hey, I still haven’t received that email:) Cheers! Kaarina

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Hey Kaarina,

      I loved the post and was happy to feature it!

      I’m glad you said something. I emailed you on the 31st. Let me check to see what happened, and I will resend.

      Thanks and take care!

  2. Erica Allison
    Erica Allison says:

    Great and insightful mash up, Adam! I did not know about the gaming debacle; boy, what bad spellers! Amazing really that people think they can behave like that and not be ‘outed’ in our very mobile, very instant access world we live in. Thank goodness I was a teenager and college student before this era! 😉

    Looking forward to your new venture…

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Thanks Erica — i appresheeate tat. How’s that for spelling? 🙂 I know, I couldn’t believe what I was reading when I first saw it. It started bad and just spiraled into something almost hard to fathom. It’s funny, because if you saw the guy’s response after the fact, one of his comments was something to the effect of “I’m really not good at customer service.” Well, that is an understatement I’d say!

      Thanks for dropping by — and here’s to making our youthful mistakes pre-Facebook! 🙂

  3. Bill Dorman
    Bill Dorman says:

    Wow Adam, this Monthly Mash was chocked full of great material.

    Lord of the Flies, huh? I have not read it, but it will enlighten me on the dark side of the internet, will it?

    You certainly took some time in putting this together; well done and thanks for sharing.

    Hope your holidays went well and I’ll be catching up with you soon.

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      Thanks Bill — glad you liked! Yeah, I’m starting to get more efficient with the mashups so I’m not throwing them together at the last minute (good to know it sort of showed!).

      Surprised some stern English teacher didn’t cram Lord of the Flies down your throat when you were in school. A really insightful book, but not exactly beach reading … well, unless you’re stranded on a beach.

      Thanks for stopping by! Hope your holidays were great as well.


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