I was recently asked to answer, in 100 words or less, “what’s the #1 way for any company to improve their customer service?” This ostensibly straight-forward question is more complex when one subscribes to the notion that “treatment without diagnosis is malpractice.”


The challenge in answering this question is to expand it beyond the two (2) word reply I wanted to provide: it depends.

The question assumes all companies are the same (they aren’t). It assumes all companies are trying to use customer service to achieve the same ends and goals (they aren’t).  The question assumes that all companies have the same problems they are trying to solve (they don’t). It is a little bit like trying to answer questions like this:

  • What’s the #1 way for people to improve their standard of living?
  • What’s the #1 way for a country to improve its GDP?

Even though the question was difficult to answer, I made a 91-word attempt which I hope justifies the need for a proper diagnosis.

“In a perfect world:

  • Customers know exactly what they purchased
  • Services are delivered when they are promised
  • Products operate how they were designed and advertised
  • Both products and services provide value (whether tangible or intangible) greater than the cost

But, in our imperfect world, wide gaps exist between expectations and reality.  So the #1 way for any company to improve customer service is to bridge these chasms. (It stands to reason that the #1 way to improve the customer experience is to close the gaps before they become customer service calls/complaints.)”

Sometimes the best questions are those without easy answers.  They cause us to think and compel us to mold our weltanschauung into an easy model. Despite the temptation to apply a one-size fits all prescription, the pivot point is that only by diagnosing the patient first can one make sound treatment recommendations.


Preventing Customer Service Malpractice
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