CCI: Mr Price, in your new book you make the very provoking case
that “The Best Service is no service”. What does this mean in practi-
cal consequence, if you take a closer look at current international
Price: Most organizations plod along by “coping with demand”
from their customers for service and support, instead of “challeng-
ing demand” by asking themselves “why did our customers have
to bother themselves to contact us for help?” As a result of this
analysis, and the actions we propose in the book, organizations
will achieve a “win-win-win” situation: customers will be happier,
they will reduce operating and capital costs, and shareholders will
benefit from greater value created.
CCI: You also state, that the majority of service advanced compa-
nies still show a lack of real good service and would rather con-
tinue to subject their customers to more and more “dumb things”
such as the range of interactions or speech recognition systems
which force customers to get stuck with technical record systems.
How could they organize themselves then more efficiently with
view to the customers need?
Price: Well, one of the best ways to organize towards the customer
is place the Customer Service group in the middle, since it is the
critical “heartbeat” that is always talking with customers, and lis-
tening to them. This means that each of the customer interactions
is coded with a unique “owner” for each situation - executives
whose departments “cause” the contacts and can largely resolve
the underlying reasons for the contacts or create successful self-
service programs. In addition, if every executive commits to listen
to customer contacts for at least two hours per week, the organi-
zation will learn about what is frustrating customers, what they
want, how competitors are performing, and a lot more.
CCI: What is the most difficult or dangerous result for companies
not being able to really match with the customers service needs?
Price: Put quite simply, companies that are not able to match
their services and products with customer service needs will go
out of business, with taken over by stronger competitors or simply
CCI: Are there certain examples of industries where service is work-
ing in a kind of State-of-the art-model that works the right way,
e.g. healthcare, telecommunication sector or others?
Price: There are bright lights across each industry sector that we
have studied, but the leaders are in online retail (especially com-
panies without mail order histories) and, perhaps surprisingly, in
many government agencies.
CCI: What is successful or different in their concepts?
Price: All of the bright lights that are striving for “Best Service”
share three key elements: (a) committed senior executives who
listen to what the customer is saying (or what we call WOCAS);
(b) a closed-loop system to eliminate “dumb contacts”, develop
self-service that works, and apply what customers want; and (c)
systems to recognize top performers and root out those who are
not able to, or want to, provide great customer experiences.
CCI: What is the biggest fault, service organizations still show in
their internal or external performance, from your point of view
Price: There are so many faults, how do I start? One fault is to
judge customer service performance using productivity or speed
metrics instead of customer-centric metrics such as asking custom-
ers how satisfied they were with their service experience, and meas-
uring repeat contacts (what we call “snowballs”). Another fault is
to bury Customer Service/Support deep inside of IT or Operations,
instead of making it a senior-level report to the CEO that is also
able to present its findings to the Board of Directors. A third fault is
“shooting the messenger” when customer service reports problems
or frustrations, instead of jumping all over these complaints.
CCI: If you would have to create the future, most smart service
organization for a company today, as you did e.g. for Amazon,
what would be the top five criteria you would concentrate on first
in order to satisfy customers needs?
Price: First, I would quickly size up the customer contacts we are
getting, separating them into the four categories we show in the
book, one leading to “eliminate” actions, another to “leverage”
“Companies that are not able to match
their services and products with customer
service needs will go out of business!”
Bill Price, President of Driva Solutions
Call Center pioneer Bill Price
Bill Price is one of the pioneers of telephone mar-
keting in the United States of America. He has
performed magnificently as a Vice President of
global customer service with the distance trader
Amazon. As a responsible for Amazon Call Centers
in the USA, Europe, Japan and India, he achieved
the second best customer satisfaction evaluates
ever measured at an American enterprise. Today
Bill Price is President of his own consulting firm