Start The Revolution

Start the Revolution

The revolution begins the next time your customer is on hold—when his time and patience starts to waste away and he begins to speculate, “There must be a better way.”

The revolution starts when your customer listens to the unintelligible voice mail that your company left. It starts when someone at your company defers a decision for a customer. Your customers may jot a note on a blog or a forum. They may Tweet on Twitter or tag comments on another social networking website. They may even start a free website or turn on their web cam to record their idle thoughts and vent.

“Casey Neistat, 24, is one consumer who took his case to cyberspace when his iPod died in September 2003 and he discovered Apple didn’t offer a re- placement battery. “They suggested I buy a new iPod,” Neistat says. Instead, he and brother Van Neistat, 29—both professional filmmakers—made a short video including Casey’s phone conversation with an Apple customer service representative. They posted it at and emailed 40 friends about the site, which has now received more than 1.5 million hits.“We had no idea [the site] would get the attention it did,” Casey says. (Apple, by the way, now has a battery replacement program for the iPod). All the rage: angry consumers are using the Internet to get revenge. How can you keep them happy?”

—Chris Penttila in Entrepreneur


While he is online, on hold, or waiting for the technician to arrive, there are communities of other customers like him online, on hold, idly waiting, and at some stage of frustration. The issue for you is how to make the best use of the customers’ time or how to create some equitable system for compensating customers for their time and effort invested. What are the options? Reschedule? Make an offer to credit $5 if you call back again in two hours? Offer an MP3 ringtone (yes, introduce a new service), offer a gift card from a partner company? Apologize?

The bottom line? An idle customer is a dangerous customer.

It is customer payback time!

Figure 10.1

It’s time for businesses to compensate customers for the time they waste. CustomerPayback monetizes customer relationships from the custom- er’s perspective. A customer simply enters the business name, the amount of his time wasted, and a fair customer wage per hour at CustomerPayback. Customers may choose to provide more details about their grievances, the company’s errors, additional damages, suggested solutions, and tips for other customers to avoid problems. CustomerPayback’s ultimate goal is

customer experience improvement.

The site calculates the dollar equivalent of the time the customer invested in the company and creates a receipt. This receipt is then sent to the offend-

ing company and recorded and reported in the CustomerPayback website. Monetizing the customer time that companies waste should bring atten-

tion to the greatest business offenders, while also providing a means for cus- tomers to suggest to companies how they can improve their processes.

CustomerPayback creates a dialogue between customers and businesses in order to help companies like yours resolve systemic problems and identify, monetize, analyze, and repair customer complaints as a result of broken customer processes.

The site also highlights worst offending companies, as well as featur- ing news about companies that are rectifying issues and making customer time a priority.

CustomerPayback recommends that your business respond to customer complaints and solution suggestions, which should also help you meet some of the service shortfalls listed in the National Customer Rage Study. Note that five of the top six “remedies” are non-monetary in nature:

1. An explanation of why the problem occurred (69%)

2. Assurance the problem would not be repeated (69%)

3. Product/service fixed (67%).

4. A “thank you for my business” (67%)

5. An apology (54%)

6. Opportunity to vent (54%)

7. Money back (43%)

8. Free product/service in the future (35%)

9. Compensation for lost time/inconvenience (22%)


Revenge (12%)

Source: Used with permission from CCA Office of the Ombudsman, 2005 National Customer Rage Study,,, Editor, Mike Turpenoff.

The Customer Rage Study brings something else to the attention of man- agers and customers. Most of us would agree that we are most frustrated when companies disregard and under-appreciate our time. The Rage study

reported that customers listed their most common “damages suffered” as “loss of time” and “loss of money.”

CustomerPayback maintains a database by company of the amount of hours and dollars each company owes its customers. This site also encour- ages businesses to contact customers directly, offer coupons, cash, chari- table donations, or some form of community service to help mend their customer relationships.

More confessions (continued from the Preface)

Confession 2: I have been on both sides of every contact intersection in the CxC Matrix. I have been to the other side. I have worked in the multi-thousand cube call centers where hard-working, dedicated cus- tomer service representatives show up every day, 24 hours a day to answer calls, online chats, emails, and letters from angry, frustrated, and generally unhappy customers. They handle problems that they had no part in causing for companies they don’t directly work for.

I worked at Macy’s in the mall the day after Christmas, where I greeted customers who arrived extra early to wait in long lines in order to argue the “refund price without a receipt policy.” (Yes, that was me who caught the sweater and box thrown by the person fourth in line from the register as she shouted, “*$#/¢! you and *$#/¢! Macy’s!” And thank yous to all of the people in line who apologized for the enraged customer and cheered as she left).

I have walked through the warehouses and shipping rooms where mil- lions of letters and boxes are stuffed, labeled, and sent to your door. Like- wise, I have spent time in the returns room where defective, mislabeled, and returned items appear by the truckload.

Confession 3: I am a salesperson, and I believe that in this new age where businesses and customers are so tightly connected we are all in sales.

I have written advertisements for radio, television, direct mail, web- sites, point of purchase, and billboards designed to intentionally and

measurably raise customer expectations and make splendid promises enticing customers to “act now!”

Confession 4: I handled your data—without malfeasance—to help com- panies build better solutions for you and to gain better understand- ing of your needs and interests while trying to extract your optimum potential revenue.

Confession 5: I don’t mind being on hold. Make “hold time” informa- tional and/or entertaining.

There is a better way, and it is not that hard

Customer satisfaction scores do not need to continue to decline. Your tech- nology, marketing and cost of sale do not need to escalate to chase every possible deal and one-up your competitor in every channel in every contact. This book is intended to help you avoid these kinds of problems by aligning your company’s business objectives with its customer’s interests, values, and expectations, making every contact customer worthy. Its goal is to help you improve relationships with customers by not wasting customer time, money, or attention. It is designed to simply make it more pleasurable to do business with you.

You should be angry, too

We are all customers at work, at home, in restaurants, on vacation, while grocery shopping, surfing the web, at the DMV, while filing our taxes, and so on. This is why this customer worthiness is so important. We are all victims of the same unsatisfactory customer experiences, and each of us holds part of the solution.

The Customer Worthy MBA

You should traverse your own company’s CxC Matrix and have every manager in your company do the same. You should go through the same process at

your major competitors to get your competitors’ customer expe- rience. At a minimum, this should be performed on an annual basis and should also be conducted any time there is a major market or competitor shift, merger, major event in your industry, new product launch, or news event.

25 Customer experiences to make you a better manager

For each of these experiences, keep a journal, taking notes about every contact, stage, and channel.

1. Send a letter to your bank asking for an explanation of the interest calculation on your money market checking account. Ask, “How much will $10,000 be worth after two years?” Send an email asking the same question.

2. Send a letter, email, and phone your wireless provider asking how to lower your monthly bill and get better service.

3. Write a letter to your energy company (gas or electricity) asking it to please lower your monthly bill.

4. Send flowers to yourself from and Note the differences in each stage in each channel using the Matrix.

5. Subscribe to WineLibrary. Buy two bottles, and return one. (Enjoy the other.)

6. Write and submit a product review on Amazon.

7. Join LinkedIn, and write a recommendation for 2 coworkers.

8. Open a Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, and Google account. Then can- cel each account.

9. Go on a car scavenger hunt, shopping at: Mercedes, Lexus, Mini Coo- per, Ford,, and Edmunds. First, shop online for a vehicle in the same size and color as what you currently drive. Then, visit each dealership, take a test drive, and get the lowest price.

10. Shop for a copy of Microsoft Office software online, and try to get the best price and the shortest delivery time. Bonus points for using online chat. Note the delivery cost, shipping cost, taxes, and version variations.

11. Visit, register, and join Gevalia Coffee Club. After you get the free coffee stuff, quit, and keep track of your email and mail offers/ follow-up. Try to do the same thing at Starbucks online.

12. Sell something on eBay, buy something on eBay, and bid for some- thing and win it on eBay.

13. Set up and use Google Adwords for two months.

14. Make and post a YouTube video. Send the link to three people you know.

15. Become a Microsoft partner. Complete the form at https://partner.

16. Become a Salesforce Partner at ners/apply-partners.jsp.

17. Become an Oracle Partner at

18. Become a WebTrends Reseller at ners/AuthorizedResellers/ResellerApplication.aspx.

19. Host a gathering for people you don’t know using LinkedIn and/or a temporary Google website. Offer to buy appetizers for the event, come up with a subject, follow up with a thank you, post pictures and video on Facebook and YouTube, and link to your invite web page.

20. Go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles for one hour when they open. Then, go to the local library and Starbucks. Then, return to the DMV.

21. Sponsor a child at WorldVision.

22. Shop for a trip to Orlando using Travelocity, Priceline (name your own price—$25, really!),, HomeAway, Expedia, and VRBO.

23. Then, go to Orlando and visit Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and Gator World. For a bonus, take someone in a wheelchair to add perspective.

24. Spend eight hours shopping on New York’s Fifth Avenue, three hours in the Short Hills Mall in Short Hills, New Jersey, 30 minutes at Costco, 30 minutes at Walmart, 30 minutes at PETCO, and 30 minutes at Staples. Join the loyalty program for each one online after your visit.

25. Write a press release, and post it at html or some other free press release website.