On Cutting Corners and the Death of Customer Service

I’m writing this from about 30,000 feet somewhere over west Texas.

It’s my bachelor party weekend – Vegas. And with my friends running the show, I’d say I have about a 50/50 chance of making it back unscathed.

I grabbed a cup of coffee while I was waiting for my plane to board.

Paid the frazzled cashier, and she just handed me an empty cup and pointed.

“You get your coffee over there. It’s self serve.”


The craziest part: she said this like it was a good thing. Progress.

But all it meant to me was standing in another line and trying to guess which carafe was fresh.

I’ve noticed this trend practically everywhere I go.

Self checkout at the grocery store.

Pump your own gas (that’s been going on since before I can remember).

Airlines that won’t even give you a freaking drink on a three-hour flight.

And on and on.

With the exception of a few companies like Zappos, customer service is going the way of the dinosaurs.

I call it the customer service death spiral.

Everyone’s cutting corners on the most ridiculous things.

Everyone’s obsessed about shaving costs to the bare minimum.

These businesses are foolish. They’re pinching pennies while real money slips through their fingertips.

Was it really worth saving fifty centers on a soft drink to lose a customer for good?

(I’m talking to you, Frontier Airlines…)

But this is a great opportunity for you.

Consumers are so used to being disappointed – to being frustrated from every angle – that it doesn’t take much to delight them.

When everyone around you is lowering the bar, it’s easier than ever to clear it… as long as you’re willing to look at the big picture.

It’ll cost you some time and money up front…

But it’ll pay off for months and years to come in the form of more sales, profits, and raving fans.

So send that email asking customers how you’re doing.

Spend an extra half hour each day bonding with people on social media.

Figure out the language they use and weave it into your web copy.

These are your customers, after all. Your lifeblood.

I can’t think of a better investment.