Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to Do About It by Chip Bell and John R. Patterson, Berrett-Koehler, 248 pages, Paperback, $19. 95, June 2011, ISBN 9781605099750 My company, 800-CEO-READ was founded and thrived on the simple fact that you can actually call and talk to a friendly somebody, if you are so inclined, when you want to buy books.
My company, 800-CEO-READ was founded and thrived on the simple fact that you can actually call and talk to a friendly somebody, if you are so inclined, when you want to buy books. That differentiation is no longer enough. The actual customer experience—whether online or by phone—now has to be perfect, because if it isn't the world will know about it scarily fast. But as we all know, perfect is often unachievable, so what can we do to prevent a major meltdown when customer expectations have not been met? In Wired and Dangerous, Chip Bell and John Patterson not only investigate this change in the relationship between customer and provider, they also provide strategies to right the imbalance.
Bell and Patterson's thesis is that technology has created a new kind of customer. Now, not only will the squeaky wheel demand some grease, but the squeaky wheel will be heard all over the Internet and the offending company is at the mercy of this new mass platform. We've all seen it: an angry post by an influential blogger or viral YouTube video can cost a major organization millions.
And this new imbalance has left companies scrambling. The authors sum up the situation very clearly:
The edginess of today's powerful wired and dangerous customers has been fueled by more than just a change in their service expectations. The energy behind their newfound assertiveness is a fundamental change in what we call the service covenant—the unspoken people-serving-people contract that has been the essence of commerce for centuries. When service providers completely remove the high touch from their high tech service without the consent, consideration, or participation of the customer, they erode customer confidence, create suspicion, and trigger impulses often expressed as thoughts of an "I'm outta here" mutiny.Perhaps surprisingly, Bell and Patterson suggest that this frenzy be met with "Service Calm," and they outline a strategy that offers usable, valuable help in dealing with these "wired and dangerous" customers that make or break your business. The final sixty pages of the book are particularly useful, providing a handy guide of "Suggestions for Partnering with Customers" that will be a resource you can come back to time and again.
Simply put, Wired and Dangerous is a must-read for anyone in the service industry. And this old school merchant who has been fascinated by the challenge of perfecting customer service over his career says, "Thanks Chip and John."