Advice, Hints, Tips And Strategy For Better Customer Service

Customer Service Articles, Hints, Free Book Excerpts

Robert Bacal has authored a number of books and articles about customer service, in particular, about providing top quality customer service is difficult situations. Below is a list of articles currently available here and authored by Robert Bacal.

Do you believe customers PREFER Facebook and Twitter for customer service? Check out this stunning video that debunks the research.
Newest Customer Service Articles and Perspectives By Robert Bacal

As A Customer is THIS What You Want? Not Me.
Some people, even those in the customer service industry, have some strange ideas about what they consider good customer service. Take a look. Does this make sense

A Guide To Customer Expectations Regarding Customer Service and Customer Experience In Various Industries and Niches
All too often we talk about "the customer" as if all are alike. They aren't. Here's an attempt to specify customer expectations for different kinds of businesses.

Customer Service and Why We MUST Get More Find Grained In Our Discussions To Improve It - Five Guidelines
Many of the discussions about customer service and customer experience consider "the customer" as having the same expectations about service and experience, regardless of location, industry and so on. Similarly, we talk about businesses as if there is one way to provide service, and that's not true. To improve service and customer experience we need to think and operate realizing the huge diversity that dictates what businesses do.

Is Much of What You Believe About Customer Service Wrong? - Could Be.
Since we are all prone to cognitive distortions, and we are in a period where wrong information is so easily transmitted and seen repeatedly, is it possible that a lot of what you believe about customer service could be wrong? The first in a series.

Some Wild Ironies - Social Media, Twitter Fail and Customer Service (Scary Stuff)
Two ironies. Both connected with Twitter, and one highlights the general ineffectiveness of Twitter for business. Scary stuff in the what if genre about how Twitterites might behave.

The Myth of Going Where The Customers Are (Customer Service and Social Media)
It's all wrong. Customers don't care whether their problem is fixed on the phone, or via email, on Twitter, or wherever. They just want it fixed quickly, conveniently and with no hassles.

Why Customer Service Won't Differentiate Brands In The Market Place. And It'll Get Less Important In The USA
It's a myth that companies can differentiate their brands by offering better customer service. Except for a very few exceptions, almost no companies have succeeded at it, and economic and psychological forces will reduce the importance of customer service in brand differentiation.

Moving Companies & Airlines - Two Kinds of Businesses Struggling With Customer Service Issues. Why?
Stimulated by a series of irate tweets from a person mad at her moving company, this article looks at the issues of business realities, and understanding that the business to customer relationship is one of exchanged value that MUST allow the company to continue in existence.

Disasters Highlight Government and NGO Need To Train Staff To Deal With Frustrated and Emotional Clientele
It's been a bad year for natural disasters, and it highlights the need, not just for having technical support available in times of crisis, but also the need to have well trained government employees who are forced to deal with a stressed, often angry population.

Toughest Customer Service Jobs? Government. Here's Why
Working in government in customer-facing jobs is the hardest customer service role in the world. In this article we explain why, and provide some tips for members of the public, and government staff.

The "New Age of Customer Service" - Getting It Right About Twitter, and Customer Complaints
Robert explains why claims about a new age of customer service resulting from the power of complaints on social media is false, based on some basic cognitive errors many of us are subject to.

A Typical Day - Why Technology is Worsening Both Customer Service and Customer Experience
A more personal experiential explanation of why technology isn't making being a customer any easier.

Government and Customer Service - An Oxymoron? Why Do People Perceive the Government As Being Poor At Customer Service?
Why is that the government seems to be so poor in the customer service area. While not an apology for government, this articles explains some of the reasons. It's simply not so simple as one might think.

Complex Systems The Source of Majority of Customer Service Failures - Part I
It seems like poor customer service occurs at the individual employee level, but for the most part, the majority of customer service failures come from systems that are so complex that the odds of failure is huge. It's an important concept that anyone involved in customer service, as provider or customer, should understand.

Seven Reasons Why Social Media Negatively Affects Customer Service and The Customer Experience
Despite the claims made by social media gurus and advocates, social media hasn't, isn't and will not result in better customer service. Here are seven reasons why.

Who NOT To Listen To About Customer Service Improvements
So many people, particularly online, profess expertise in customer service matters, but many look at customer service solely from the perspective of the customer, or serve as one sided advocates of a particular position on customer service. Legitimate experts are able to look at customer service from multiple perspectives, not the least is from a business-bottom line viewpoint. Here's some help at distinguishing the real experts from the loud pseudo-experts.

Customer Service Myth Breaking: Customer Service Quality Will NOT Improve Over the Next Few Years
Contrary to the "buzz" there is no indication that customer service has improved over the last few years. If anything customer perceptions of service quality have worsened with the advent of social media. The future? It's going to get worse, folks, because while some companies can differentiate themselves via customer service and use of social media, MOST companies cannot. Here's the explanation.

Delighting Customers/Exceptional Customer Service Critical? Nope. Myth!
One of the loudly trumpeted ideas about customer service is that it's worth delighting customers as a means of retaining them, and/or generating word of mouth. There's nothing wrong with creating "delight", but many businesses will not gain from these attempts. For Disney it works. For you? Read on.

It's Time To Stop The "Love The Customer" Nonsense and Get Serious About Customer Service
Contrary to what what customer service "advocates" preach, you don't have to "love the customers" to  encourage them to return. This kind of mangling of both language and thought, demeaning the concept of love, does nobody any good. It's the wrong approach to improving customer service.

Six Learning Points About Customer Experience - A Tale of Two Hotels
I share a personal experience with two hotels, one a middle to upper level hotel with big prices, and another a low cost, but full featured establishment. Guess which one wins?

Gathering Customer Satisfaction Data Every Staff Member A Researcher
An older article that highlights the importance of having all customer-facing staff members collect data, and provide data and interpretation to their managers as part of increasing customer satisfaction.

Solving The Government Customer
Do governments actually have customers? Indeed, they do, and there are a number of reasons for governments to step up their efforts to provide customer service, even to those they regulate.

The #1 Mistake Made Dealing With Angry Customers classic
A classic article and one of our most popular, this outlines the most frequent (and well intentioned) mistake made when dealing with angry customers.

Customer File - Success With Difficult Customers - The Mind set
A short article that focuses on half of the two elements needed to provide customer service to difficult customers. This deal with mind set, and attitude. The other part? Skill.

Customer Service Humor - Customers Aren't Always

Just a wee bit of customer service related humor. Take a break. Enjoy.

Referring Customers - An Important Part of Customer Service
No customer likes to feel like the customer service representative is "passing the buck". Learn when and how to refer customers elsewhere, and how to do it in a way that doesn't constitute "buck passing."

Understanding Angry Customers
By understanding the psychology of angry customers, you can improve your ability to deal more effectively with them, and provide professional service while, at the same time, reducing stress.

Rethinking Customer Service For THIS Millennium

Customer satisfaction levels are dropping. Customer service is getting worse. Customer advocates are crying out to be loved. On top of this there is a horrible level of oversimplification about customer service and how to make it better.

In this section, we're going to cover where customer service needs to go to fit into today's society and economic system.

Should We Be Rethinking Customer Service?
In this interview Robert suggests that we need to think and talk about customer service as a business tool, and not an entitlement of customers. Sometimes improving customer service can damage a business.

Sustainable Customer Service, Sustainable Customer Service- It's About Balance
Customer service will only improve when the needs of all the stakeholders are addressed so that the level of customer service and customer experience is sustainable from a business point of view. Here's the first in a series of articles on the topic.

I'm NOT A Customer Service Whore!
Just read it. A call to cut out the crap in the customer service world that's based on deception, self-deception and selling "feelings" for money.

9 Reasons Why Large Companies Should NOT Rely on Social Media As A Customer Service Tool
Controversial. Social media has legitimate business uses that capitalize on social media platform strengths. The delivery of customer service is not building on strength, and it is making customer service work. Rethink!

The Robert Bacal Customer Service Interviews

Is Customer Service Broken?
In this article Robert explains that the answer to this simple question isn't easy, and that it may be hard to turn around the decline of customer service. Then he suggests how companies, by shifting their focus, might make inroads.

Why Blaming Doesn't Work To Improve Customer Service
At minimum this interview on blame reminds us that blaming never changes things positively, and at best it's an eye opener for customers (and managers, employees) who think the way to improve things is to blame.

The Three Different Worlds of Customer Service Perceptions - The Twain Shall Never Meet
Robert is asked about the various perceptions amongst the players and stakeholders related to customer service, and it's a brain stimulator. It goes way beyond most discussions of poor customer service and applies system thinking and root cause analysis to customer service, and the news isn't good.

How Good Does Customer Service Have To Be? The Answer Will Surprise!
In this interview, Robert explains that often, even bad customer service won't impact on the business results of a company.

Customer Service Vs. Servitude, and I'll Have Some Brats With That
In this cutting interview, Robert suggests that many customer service advocates want a level of customer service that requires employees to function in servitude rather than providing a service.

Is It Possible That Social Media Is Making Customer Service Worse? You Bet, and Here's Why
Despite the contention that social media will result in better customer service levels, Robert talks about why social media is resulting in worse customer service, and it makes sense.

Survey Based Research On Customer Behavior and Use of Social Media Often Very Misleading
A must read for anyone that relies on survey research to make decisions about customer service levels provided to customers. Robert talks about the discontinuity between what people say and what people do, and how it affects the survey results.

Should We Be Rethinking Customer Service?
In this interview Robert suggests that we need to think and talk about customer service as a business tool, and not an entitlement of customers. Sometimes improving customer service can damage a business.

Where Do You See Customer Service Going This Year (Customer Empowerment)
Some comments on where customer service is going and why customer empowerment is an illusion.

Customer Service & Social Media (Twitter, Facebook)

Customer Service and Social Media – Myths and Myth Steps
Lots of buzz about combining customer service and social media, but it's based on a number of incorrect assumptions about what customers want, and Return On Investment (ROI). Before you invest valuable time and money in social media as a customer service tool, READ THIS.

Twitter IS A Broadcast Medium, NOT A Conversational One And Implications For Customer Service
Despite the experts' contention that Twitter is about conversation, dialogue and interaction, the data doesn't support that. If we want to use Twitter for customer service we need to know how real people actually use it, not what the experts say about how people SHOULD use it.

Study Suggests Internet/Social Media Customer Service Discriminates Against The Poor, and Rural Residents
If companies reduce customer support via traditional channels and move their resources to the Internet and social media, systemic and discriminatory barriers will work to affect the poor, the rural, and those in other groups defined by heritage and culture.

Seven Reasons Why Social Media Negatively Affects Customer Service and The Customer Experience
Despite the claims made by social media gurus and advocates, social media hasn't, isn't and will not result in better customer service. Here are seven reasons why.

A Typical Day - Why Technology is Worsening Both Customer Service and Customer Experience
A more personal experiential explanation of why technology isn't making being a customer any easier.

Customer Service Related Book Excerpts From Books By Robert Bacal

Perfect Phrases For Customer Service

Now in its second edition, this outstanding book helps customer service representatives learn what to say and what to do to provide top notch customer service. It's NOT a set of scripts, but a book that teaches the thinking behind effective service. And, it's less than $10.00 via amazon.

Perfect Phrases For Customer Service - Preface
Welcome to the preface for the book, Perfect Phrases For Customer Service, published by McGraw-Hill. This excerpt is from the first edition. The second edition came out in 2010, and I hope to add more excerpts soon.

Perfect Phases For Customer Service - Sample Situation #1 - Lateness
Here's a sample situation covered in Perfect Phrases For Customer Service, to give you an idea of how the book is set up.

Perfect Phrases For Customer Service - Sample Situation - The Interrupting Customer
Another sample, this time on how to deal with the customer who is constantly interrupting.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook (Third Edition, 2010)

This third edition, released in 2010, includes new material to address the world of difficult customers, and brings the total strategies and skills for dealing with difficult customers up to over 120. While written originally for the government sector, the skills apply across all sectors, and that's why we've had so many purchasers outside of government.

The excerpts below are from our previous edition, which has been greatly improved in the new release.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Preface and Instructions
In this excerpt we introduce the book and make suggestions about how readers can improve their learning about dealing with difficult and angry customers.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Complete Table of Contents

The complete table of contents, which gives an idea of the many skills and techniques readers can learn to improve handling of hostile and aggressive customers.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Chapter 2 - Part 1 - Nature of Hostile and Abusive Behavior
In the first section of this chapter, learn about some of the psychology behind hostile and abusive behavior, and what falls into the category of "hostile" customer behavior.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Chapter 2 - Part 2 - Learn why customers act badly, and the basic customer defusing principles
Ever wonder why normal people sometimes act badly when in the customer role? Here we explain what happens, and the basic principles of defusing hostile customers.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Chapter 2 - Part 3 - More: Learn why customers act hostile and aggressive
More on why customers act in hostile ways, so you can be better prepared to apply the defusing skills.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Chapter 2 - Part 4 - What Angry Customers Want and Need
A very important issue, since defusing angry customers is predicated on understanding what customers want, and what customers need to happen so they can tone done their anger and/or difficult behavior.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Examples of Exercises Included in the Workbook
This book is a "seminar in a book" and is based on the actual exercises used in many of Robert Bacal's live seminars. Here are some examples of how the exercises are used to help learning happen.

Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook Examples of Exercise Answers in Workbook Appendix
Finally, this section shows you some of the answers included in the Appendix -- so that readers can compare their own answers to "correct" ones.

Customer Service Articles From Guest Contributors

For some perspectives from other customer service and CRM (customer relationship management experts, you can visit our guest contributors section, where you will find general customer service advice, difficult customer advice, CRM recommendations and help, and more. Click here.


Special Help: Prevent and Master Angry and Difficult Customers

Don't let difficult, angry customers control you. Learn to take control, stay cool, and remain professional in the toughest situations

Reviewer Praise From Amazon Readers

Bacal nails it! While more are messing with the entanglements of Customer Satisfaction which leads to no where...he addresses the specifics head on and focuses on the greater picture and ultimate goal of the Customer Experience which leads to Loyalty. Excellent job! (Macy in Oklahoma, 2013)

One of the best things I learned from this book is how to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Using the tools from this gem of a book I have calmed people down, turned bad situations into good, and kept customers who would have otherwise left us and written ten nasty reviews in their wake. It is so empowering to be able to do that, rather than feel awful and abused. This is a must buy, must read for people who work with customers day in and day out. Do it for your own sanity, and to help improve your own job performance and satisfaction! (E. Meehan, California, 2012)

Available In Print From The Following

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You May Also Enjoy Robert's Other Books On Customer Service, Management And Better Relationships