Monthly Mash: Customer Experience Tools and Epic CustServ Fail
Adam Toporek Keynote Speaker of Customers That Stick®

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.


  • The Problem with “No Problem” – Inevitably, the words we choose help define us. A look at how two words should be removed from the customer experience.
  • 5 Tips for Dealing With Negative Online Comments – Strong advice on how to approach negative online comments. Good discussion in the comment section as well.
  • The Customer is the Customer. Adapt or Die – “The customer is not always right. But the customer is always the customer. I was the one who had to adapt to survive and compete.”
  • Connection, Engagement, and Value — Buzz Words or Realities – A great discussion of the difference between a transactional and a relational approach to customers.
  • Super Opportunity to Improve Every Customer Experience Survey – I’m currently working on a big project with customer surveys, and I love the point in this one about how a survey also is a reflection of the business.
  • Secret to Amazing Customer Service: Be Better Than Average – I just had to include Shep Hyken again, since we both wrote posts about average customer service within a few days of each other! And because his post was great.
  • My Letter to Tony Hsieh – I’m really cheating on this one, as it was from Jan 2011. But I discovered it reading a December roundup and just loved it!

Two New Blogs in the CustServ Sphere

  • My Passion for Customer Service – A great beginning to a new blog in the customer service space from Richard Shapiro. Technically, from November, but I didn’t learn about it until December.
  • Introducing Social CRM (And Why Your Business Needs It) – A new blog on a topic that is ever-increasing in relevance. From Jugnoo (Danny Brown’s new gig), and featuring the talented Joey Strawn.

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.

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About the Author Adam Toporek

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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