Four roads we call customer service

Road 1: I can learn from you and make things better

Road 2: You’re an important customer and I can bring empathy and care to this moment to strengthen our relationship

Road 3: I can teach you something and make things better

Road 4: Go away


If you call a company and they tell you that they’re not actually in contact with management. That all they can do is refer you to the front desk. They’re not there to learn anything from you. If you call a company that puts you on hold for a long time, you’re on road 4. The organization has decided that you are a cost, not an asset.

Road 1 customer service is pretty rare. It tends to happen with very small organizations, and that’s one reason why companies appear callous and stuck when they get bigger.

They don’t want to spend the resources to expose their decision-makers and creators to the people who actually use the product or service, so they build a moat around them. All they seek to learn is, “how cheap can we mollify customers?”

Road 2 and Road 3 can overlap. It’s entirely possible that the customer is upset or confused because they need insight or an explanation. By teaching them how to navigate their situation, you can improve satisfaction at the same time you rebuild a relationship.

Road 3 is often best done with the internet, with a manual, with a video. It’s a chance for the customer (who’s enrolled in getting their problem solved) to interact with a well-designed system that can teach them how to solve it. This can fall apart when the customer doesn’t actually want to learn, or worse, when the organization does a mediocre job of education.

Most customers don’t actually expect miracles, but they certainly expect more than Road 4.

Road 4 Go away. If they had guts, they’d just say so. If they had talent. They don’t want customers to stress them with any complaint or issue.

If you engage with customers, as a freelancer or as a public company, pick your road. Be clear about what it’s worth and what it costs. And then do that.


Credit : Seth godin

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