2010-04-22-Insults1Kind­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism — that’s what great cus­tomer ser­vice boils down to, accord­ing to my col­league Tim Miles.

And while Tim has drilled down to dis­cover the 7 ele­ments in small busi­ness Kind­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism (which you should con­sider a must-read), for me the real genius is in his gen­eral for­mula of “Kind­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al­ism.” Why?

Because it’s the oppo­site of “Adding insult to injury.”

Believe it or not most med­ical mal­prac­tice suits, along with most “United Breaks Gui­tarsPR and word of mouth cat­a­stro­phes all promi­nently fea­ture both ele­ments — often with the “insult” tak­ing prece­dence over the injury.

Imag­ine what would typ­i­cally hap­pen with­out the “Insult.” If united broke the gui­tar and then apol­o­gized and even only par­tially com­pen­sated Dave Car­roll for the loss, do you still think he would have made that video. Think about that: even if the ordeal still cost Dave hun­dreds of dol­lars — even if the “injury” part of the equa­tion was still present — that ele­ment alone would never have sparked a viral YouTube revenge with­out the added injury of an uncar­ing and cal­loused bureau­cratic response.

But flip­ping the equa­tion goes beyond avoid­ing PR night­mares; adding kind­ness to pro­fes­sion­al­ism offers a pow­er­ful men­tal frame­work for cre­at­ing emo­tion­ally com­pelling cus­tomer ser­vice.  And these ele­ments are present in every “WOW” cus­tomer ser­vice story you’ll ever hear or expe­ri­ence, whether it’s the I Heart Zap­pos story, the var­i­ous Nordie sto­ries, and so on.

So, think about it: Kind­ness and Professionalism.

And then head on over to Tim’s blog to see every­thing that can go into each part of that dynamic duo.


  1. Mike Reeves-McMillan on 01.31.2012

    Very true, Jeff. One of the things that defines poor cus­tomer ser­vice for me is the lack of an apol­ogy. It’s a lot more dif­fi­cult to hold on to resent­ment after some­one has apol­o­gised to you, but no apol­ogy is almost as infu­ri­at­ing as the ini­tial problem.

    A quick search reveals quite a bit of research on this ques­tion, which seems to gen­er­ally indi­cate that I’m not alone.

  2. Jeff on 02.01.2012


    Thanks for the com­ment. I’d agree with you, but I have to ad that the “insult” part of it more often comes from an insin­cere or false apol­ogy than no apol­ogy at all. That’s the more com­mon mis­take. The flip side of that is false “kind­ness” can strike just as offen­sive a chord as a faux apology.

    - Jeff

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