Busting 20 Customer Service Myths: Review of BAM

BAM - Customer Service bookBAM: Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World” is the new book by Barry Moltz and Mary Jane Grinstead.

“BAM” stands for “bust a myth.”  The book debunks 20 myths about customer service as written in the introduction: “BAM! debunks the twenty common myths of of customer service — from “The customer is always right” to “Customer service means the same thing to everyone” to “Companies achieve customer service by under-promising and over-delivering.” Customer service myths run the customer policies of many companies without anyone even questioning them.  Unfortunately, this ensures that customer service will only be a “bolt-on” and not a part of the DNA of that company.  Inside the DNA of most companies is where customer service needs to be in order to retain profitability.”

This introduction grabbed me instantly!  If you’re like me, you’ve heard those customer service truisms… forever.  Few of us bother to question them anymore.

But this book does question them.

Why the Customer is NOT Always Right

Take, for example, “the customer is always right.”  The book says this is a myth — customers are never right 100% of the time.  Many a startup, they contend, has found that it is not economically viable to base a business model on the customer always being right.

Rather, the goal should be to make the customer feel satisfied.   Setting the right expectations up front; being friendly and open; listening with respect to the customer — these types of attitudes and approaches make the customer feel satisfied yet maintain boundaries of what you can and cannot afford to do.  This is much more realistic, says the book, than pretending that the customer is right … to the point of driving your business into bankruptcy.

What I Liked Best About the Book

I have to admit that I would not normally choose to read a book about customer service.  I started reading the book because I’ve been a fan of Barry Moltz for a number of years, ever  since reading his “You Need to be a Little Crazy,” which is about starting your own business.  But I must say that once I started reading my review copy of BAM!, I found it to be one of the most useful books for my business.  Here’s why:

  • Relevant — Many of the examples in the book are about regular small businesses. Most books profile household-name brands … the Fortune 1000.  But I have a hard time equating my business with a multi-national company that spends mega-millions on customer service staff and technology. I want to read about businesses on a scale like my own.  The examples in the book include small businesses such as a car wash, a gem store, a spa, a local restaurant and a graphic design company.  Yes, there are examples from large corporations like American Airlines and Walmart, but they are not the focus.
  • Actionable — From the book’s title, you might assume it goes through the 20 myths debunking each one, and then calls it a day.  Not so.   Almost half  the book gives you actionable “how to” advice.  Features I especially liked were:  the unique “customer value calculation” (helps you understand which customers bring you the most value);  a list of customer satisfaction questions (great for a customer service survey); and a customer service manifesto (helpful to train employees and get your organization on the same page).
  • Realistic — Look, in a perfect world, we’d all love to give everything to our customers.  It’s just not possible.  Most small businesses don’t have enough resources.  Example:  in my business, everyone wants a piece of my time.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day — I don’t have time to even read all my emails. Every small business faces choices — not enough time, not enough staff, not enough technology, not enough budget to develop product features to meet every customer wish. Whatever it is, there are limits.  This book recognizes that and helps you make intelligent choices.

BAM! doesn’t have the same level of entertaining shock value as the prose in Barry’s first book, You Must be a Little Crazy.  That book featured outrageous section headings like:  “Partnership is Marriage Without Sex.”  Perhaps because he has a co-author, BAM!’s style is more sedate.  Depending on your preferences, that may or may not be a good thing.  However, much as I liked Barry’s first book, BAM! is more useful for operating an ongoing small business.

Who This Book is For

This is an excellent book for any small business owner or entrepreneur grappling with how to satisfy customers in line with your resources.  It’s also good for managers responsible for customer service.  It is relevant to most industries and verticals.  Even for an online publishing business such as mine (where I have a hard time finding relevance in traditional customer service concepts) I was able to find useful information to apply.

Like most books today, it has it own website where you can sample a chapter. If you want to know how to get customers feeling more satisfied, and still make a profit, I definitely recommend you get BAM!

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.