Old Customer Care Lady Sayings

As a leader in customer care, over the years I have developed a few sayings that I believe have held me in good stead.

Camille’s Top Three Customer Care Sayings

#1: No Special Snowflakes

To My Fellow Caffeine-Fuelled Zombies: The Special Snowflake Paradox

This means that –as much as possible — we want to avoid having to support custom features, special builds, weird bespoke SLAs, and anything else that is going to be hard to track and resolve. Specialness is frustrating to handle and an impediment to scale. If we are running a tiny neighborhood cupcake shop, fine, I am happy to handcraft cupcakes. If we are trying to build a mega cupcake conglomerate, it needs to come off the conveyor belt the same as the others. I tend to say this to sales people and occasionally to overzealous engineers.

#2: Keep Receipts

In your career and in your day to day work, a lot of information goes flying back and forth and it can be hard to track across public Slack channels, private Slack channels, DMs, emails, Google Docs, Zoom calls and so and so forth. When in doubt (and you should mostly just STAY in doubt), write things down, have other people write them down to you, record things, screenshot things.
You will forget.
People will forget.
People will pretend they forgot.
People will try to reinvent the wheel.
People will try to rewrite history based on their faulty memories or wishful thinking.
Keep receipts to remind them (and yourself!) of the good things, the bad things, the mistakes, and the almost-forgotten strokes of genius.

#3: Reduce information asymmetry

I wrote about this here and it is a brief read, but the tl;dr isI this:

If you know something that the customer should know, tell them right away. It will give them some information to gather OR help them set expectations on their side OR prompt them to fashion a workaround. They might not be happy about what you tell them, but at least they won’t be sitting idle wondering if you forgot about them and their problem.

What about you? What are some of your favorite sayings or rules of thumb?

2 thoughts on “Old Customer Care Lady Sayings

  1. I like these! And your point about reducing information asymmetry really speaks to me; I like to tell the user/customer what they can do if there is any possibility of a workaround, along with “here’s why that might be a bad idea”.

    It will give them some information to gather OR help them set expectations on their side OR prompt them to fashion a workaround.

    Right! People hate feeling both helpless and ignorant. I think about public transit and how good information systems give me information about the things that are out of my control. Once I’m on the bus waiting for my stop, even though I’ve already made my choice to wait in my seat, seeing the timing estimates for the next few stops helps me FEEL less anxious about something that I depend on yet do not control.

    What about you? What are some of your favorite sayings or rules of thumb?

    Hygiene is harder than heroics. As in, a lot of people find it harder to do the same small preventative thing consistently and on a schedule than to do one big thing when the need is resoundingly clear and everyone can see the danger of not doing it. Thus: be aware of this tendency and mitigate it through automation, cross-checks, celebration of people/teams who quietly keep it up, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gahhhh! I love that rule of thumb. I wish I could go back in time and say it to people. The issue comes up so many times. Especially with devs at startups who get sort of hooked on the excitement of production emergencies.

      Liked by 1 person

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