Being Human is Good Business

by Kristin Smaby

13 Reader Comments

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  1. Thank you Kristin for bringing the issue of customer service (vs customer support) into the typically tech and design focused world of A List Apart. The tyranny of statistics and queues can make it a real struggle for customer service workers to spend time thinking about service, as opposed to thinking about how to resolve the immediate problem.
    Treating people as people and not problems is one way companies can differentiate themselves from the surrounding mass of services and tools. Your customers can probably find 10 other products that offer pretty much what you offer, but if they *like* dealing with you, they won’t jump the first time something goes wrong.
    At the same time, it is important to measure the effectiveness of a customer support team. I’d love to hear feedback from others about how to measure customer service without creating the wrong incentives. 37signals “smiley”:http://smiley.37signals.com/ is one promising option. Asking customers to rate their support experience. Combining that with the more traditional time and ticket numbers might give a fuller picture. So glad to see this article here, it is an area that so many web designers and web developers have left alone for too long.
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  2. Thanks, Mathew! I agree that 37signals is taking a step in the right direction. I hope others follow suit and inspire creative ways to measure customer service successes beyond the standard issue-centric stats. I look forward to more feedback.
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  3. Great article. I’m a one woman band and keep in regular contact with most of my clients. They seem to like that I know them well and that we can talk face to face, rather than them submitting a support ticket or going into a call centre queue every time they have an issue. Being human definitely is good business in my world, and I think a lot of larger organizations could benefit from not entirely automating their support and communications with clients.
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  4. In my experience of being always a costumer, i have noticed that when the company does not give a penny about you. They want only to profit. Forgeting that the one that brings them the profits are US the clients. This wonderful solution that you are providing should solve the majority of this problems. But the company knows they are not “cost effective”.
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  5. Great article Kristin,
    It’s something that I wrote about recently on “SmashingMag”:http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2011/08/26/taking-a-customer-from-like-to-love-the-ux-of-long-term-relationships/ As we’ve all moved toward online business, automation has been the false idol. _"Your call is important to us_” , _"Your issue has been ticketed"_, _"Do not reply to to this email"_ Could you imagine running a bar, restaurant, cafe, with this level of blatant apathy for customers? It’s crazy. We built “Intercom”:http://intercom.io to force people to focus on the relationships they have with their customers, and to help them grow it. We’d love it if you’d check it out.
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  6. I wrote a blog about this yesterday and I love how your article explains the “why” behind serving customers as individuals. Derek Sivers writes about making business more human in _Anything You Want_ and I think that idea is becoming more and more popular.
    Thanks again, I’ll certainly be sharing this with my team.
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  7. I have run a “kent web design”:http://www.eonic.co.uk business in the UK for the last 10 years, customer service has always been important but hard to deliver in an industry of geeks. I have always found if you employ the right people it falls into place not to say I haven’t made a few mistakes along the way. Firstly have a culture where everyone can talk to clients and banter is OK, secondly only employ people who you would happlily spend a long car journey or go down the pub with ! Get the people right and everything else falls into place.
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  8. Your comment about support agent’s lack of motivation is spot-on. Too often Level 1 support is the dirty job that no one wants to do, and they hire day jobbers on minimum wage, or worse, outsource it! What you propose is brillant - Hire good, caring people, and use their talents to really get to know the customer. Everyone works out happier in the end.
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  9. Great article!
    Having worked in the design industry, I definitely know the importance of understanding the client. I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t stop to hear my client’s story and find out where their passion lies. Passion inspires great design and a powerful brand, which appeals to a broader range of people. And as a customer, I always continue to give my business to a company that treats me with informal respect and hears what I have to say. I really don’t think it takes much effort to do this, either. It takes more effort to be inhuman in my opinion.
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  10. One of the reasons I started my own business was because the company I worked for before where so engrossed with turn-over that they did what ever it took to invoice as soon as possible and if needed, cut corners to get projects out of the door sooner. What is absolutely crystal clear to me after 8 years in business is that services is everything. My “Cheshire Web Design (Web Design Cheshire)”:http://www.dreamscape-design.co.uk/ business has only survived and grown because myself and the team truly care about the work we do and our clients. Customers and empowered by contemporary social media tools so poor service and criticisms can and will spread like wild fire. With the global economies in turbulent times customer care and service will become an ever increasing factor in who survives and who does not.
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  11. This is a great article, and is valuable for business owners and consultants alike.  Being in both forward and internal facing roles in my company, I typically compare the client approach to the team member approach.  This entire article could be read from the perspective of a leader considering how he/she interacts with their team.  Being human with our team members promotes good business and, most importantly, creates a working environment that people want to be a part of. Thanks again for this article, it’s incredibly insightful.
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  12. I have been in the customer support industry for some time and I just wanted to add that the mentioned personalized customer support requires a range of skills that are not freely available on the labor market. People with advanced peoples skill and with a sense for the big picture will usually find more rewarding jobs. If you want to blame it on the system put in place by the organizations, bare in mind that the performance of each agent needs to be monitored, and monitoring puts numbers on people. This automatically leads to issues raised by your article.
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  13. I hate it when you have to deal with these companies that quite clearly dont care about customer relations because they show no sign of “being human”, in other words all you get is automated replies on the phone and by email, how on earth do such companies manage to keep getting more clients when they cant even take the time to talk to the ones they already have? I think showing your customers you care by taking the time to talk to them, be that by email or phone, is a very important part of business!
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