Behind every successful man…

Too bad this saying has fallen out of favor because its applications are limitless.

As we talk to clients and prospects on a daily basis discussing how to improve their support process, this saying always comes to mind but there never seems an appropriate place to lace it into to conversation without the threat of offending someone. From years before my time, I hear of fables about people who centered their lives around something other than self-serving promotion. One of the recurring characters in these tales is the wife who has a completely fulfilling life dedicated to bettering her family.

Things aren’t worse now than they were (arguably). Things aren’t better now than they were (arguably). They’re just different. But the role of unselfish people is one many times overlooked by my generation and below.

This thought leads me to think about the spiralling decline of customer service. Unfortunate for consumers, customer service rep positions are usually looked at as a straightline cost instead of an investment. Outsourcing to foreign countries, hiring interns, and letting newbies cut their teeth on the business are a few of the common avenues that today’s companies are using to keep the “cost” of customer service to a minimum.

I don’t know the economics of this decision; but, as a consumer, I know full-well the result. A great customer service agent is the unsung hero of today’s commerce.

I like to compare the customer service experience between Southwest Airlines and Delta Airlines. When you call Delta, you can feel that the goal of the person on the other end is to get to a page on that script that says “End”. But a Southwest operator gives you the feeling of the desire to fix your problem. I would like to see the budgets on a per person basis between these two companies on training to be a customer service rep.

Seth Godin describes a similar experience with Motorola customer service recently on his blog. Seth Godin


I would like to see the leaders of the customer service departments in companies be the type of people who enjoy being the “great woman behind the successful man.” This applies to internal support as much or more than supporting external clients, but that is for another day.

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