Cover: The Non-Designer's Design Book

Monthly Mash: Customer Service Tools and Non-Designer’s Design

Volume 6: April 2012

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

Customer Experience Resource: The Non-Designer’s Design Book

Cover: The Non-Designer's Design BookSo, what on earth does a design book have to do with the customer experience? Everything.

It’s no secret that all of our lives are becoming increasingly tied to digital user interfaces, and as businesspeople, many of our customer’s experiences with our company begin with a design — whether it be digital or print.

Understanding basic design principles can take you a long way towards understanding how to create a great user experience, and The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams (no, not Mork) is a short, layperson introduction to the most fundamental principles of the discipline.

Will this book make you a professional designer? Absolutely not. However, it will introduce you to basic precepts and make you better at reviewing the designs of others or creating your own designs when budgets do not allow for professional help.

If you run a small business or marketing agency, you absolutely must read this book; however, if you work for a large company, you will find the principles helpful for even the least design-oriented and mundane communications. Three items that reading this book immensely improved for me: Better emails, better memos, and better training materials.

If you have a natural eye for design, this book might not be for you, but if you are graphically-challenged (like me), then you will find the introduction to basic principles invaluable. If you are at all concerned with the user experience — whether for the internal or external customer — The Non-Designer’s Design Book is a great place begin learning the language of design.

The Month in Customer Service Blogging

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

  • ‘Can I Help You?’ Three Ways The Japanese Do Customer Service Better. Valuable cross-cultural customer service lessons here from a contributor at Forbes. When was the last time a retail employee handed you an order and bowed?
  • Why Your Customers Don’t Need Faster Service: A post that tells us what the average customer thinks of service response time and shows that there are diminishing returns after a certain initial window is passed. Every one in service should read this post and consider the findings.
  • Why Are Your Customers Being Difficult? Ten Reasons: This post looks at difficult customers and points the mirror back at us, reminding us to look at ourselves when customers are not “behaving well.” Sometimes, it’s our fault — almost always, it’s our responsibility!
  • How to Develop Customer Evangelists: Three simple insights on how to create and maintain the kind of customer that will stick around for a long time.
  • Psychological Barriers to a Super Customer Experience: A great look at some of the top psychological barriers that prevent customer facing professionals from delivering the best customer experience they can.
  • As You Like It… or Not: A Customer Service Parable in One Act: An amusing anecdote about a customer service fail that we have probably all lived through before in one version or another.
  • Authenticity matters in customer service: Another great post about the human psyche as it relates to customer service. Three ways to “keep it real” and promote authenticity in customer service.
  • What Message Are You Sending Your Customers: When we are loyal to a business, why don’t they continue to fight for that loyalty? Better service from a competitor may be enough to break long standing loyalty.

Someone Was Listening

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

Seriously! Is This the Worst Customer Service Sign Ever? — I snapped a picture of this sign earlier this month and had to post it. Both sad and funny at the same time. I wonder if I have Jay Leno’s email handy…

Thoughts on the Customer

I’m keeping it short this week with a question for us all:

Think about the substantive interactions you had with your customers this week: Did you do anything exceptional that really blew your customer’s mind?

If not, don’t kick yourself. Not every interaction has to be mind blowing. But here’s the exercise. Look back at your interactions and ask a simple question: could you have done something extra special in any of those situations? If so, remember it for next time.


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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5 replies
  1. Bill Dorman
    Bill Dorman says:

    What has the customer got to do with it? I hate having to answer my phone……

    Out of your list, which one got the highest marks? I didn’t do anything exceptional this week; in fact, I might be getting fired on an account. I could point the finger (even at the customer) and make a bunch of excuses but ultimately it’s my responsibility. The lesson I learned on this one was, even when things are out of your control don’t sit back and wait for it to resolve itself. If nothing else, pick up the phone and stay in constant contact so everybody is on the same page.

    The sad thing is, we’ve already paid a $30,000 claim and this snafu we are dealing with did not result in any lost coverage. Our challenge was is they added additional coverage mid-stream and when it was added they didn’t like the pricing. Regardless, they were not happy how it went down and let me know about it.

    We’ll see, I’m not optimistic. If we do retain it, I’ll be more sensitive to how prompt any ‘issues’ are being addressed, even when I don’t need to be in the middle of it.

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      That’s always tough when it gets pretty far down the trouble road before you’re aware that it’s a real problem. Even worse (if I’m reading you correctly) when you have big business with a client and things get tanked over something small or ancillary. You’re definitely right about not letting things resolve themselves. Most of the time they do not.

      I hope you can recover the account! But if not, you’ve always got social. 🙂

  2. Kaarina Dillabough
    Kaarina Dillabough says:

    I contacted a recent/former client and indicated that I’d love to follow up with them…buy them a coffee…and just chat. No sales. No obligation. Just an informal get-together to catch up. They were blown away.

    They then said: “We’ve been meaning to get in touch with you to do a follow-up: are you a mind reader?”

    We will go out for coffee. I’m sure I’ll do more work with them. It just proves that by connecting, rather than push-selling, the door opened to further engagement. To quote our friend Bill: “cool beans”. (and Bill, don’t start the meter running on all the phrases I borrow (cough) steal from you:))) Cheers! Kaarina

    • Adam Toporek
      Adam Toporek says:

      I love that story Kaarina! It’s amazing how powerful the simple act of reaching out can be.

      Also, it’s funny because I have an upcoming post and part of the title is “It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask”. So maybe you are a mind reader! 🙂

      Best of luck with the coffee… I am sure it will go great!


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