Today’s lesson on customer service comes from an unexpected source:
Donald Trump and his show, “The Apprentice”. This week’s episode saw
the project leader (popular skater, Scott Hamilton) get fired because
he ignored a cardinal rule of customer service: give them what they
The project this week was to create a cartoon character (for marketing purposes) for Zappos.
If Zappos is known for one thing it’s customer service. They go to
great lengths to give their customer the experience they want. And they
have passionately loyal customers because of this.Both
teams had access to the Zappos CEO to question him about what the
company wanted in their new cartoon character mascot. They had plenty
of opportunity to ask key questions and establish a framework they
could work within that would meet Zappos’ needs.
In the end, the ladies team created a character called “Mizz Z”. The
men’s team calls their cartoon dude “EEE” (Hamilton’s idea).
The characters were not all that different. From a consumer
perspective neither was more memorable or compelling than the other
except the name. “Mizz Z” clearly connected to the “Z” in Zappos. It
was obvious. As a consumer I get this.
But the guy’s character, “EEE”, did not make the same connection. It
had no relation to the overall brand Zappos has developed. It did
nothing to support their branding. And, it was not what Zappos wanted.
If the guys had asked the Zappos CEO about this, they would have
known. It would have been easy. Or, after coming up with the name,
Hamilton could have asked for feedback from people. (Actually he got
feedback about it but he ignored it.)
Trump made it clear, Hamilton totally ignored the customer’s desire
to tie their “Z” based branding into the cartoon character campaign. So
he fired him (and rightly so). What Trump didn’t emphasize was that
Hamilton, the leader, also ignored his team. He believed he knew what
was best and he made his decision based on that.This is just as
Hamilton violated two principles of Amazing service:
“Discover what your customer wants and give it to them” (In a way that works for your organization)
“Get everyone involved” (In finding solutions and addressing opportunities.)
As a result he is no longer on the team or in the game.
Keep your organization in the game and keep your customer coming
back by living these two simple rules. Make sure your company is
constantly asking your customers what they want and then striving to
deliver that (in a way that is sustainable for the company). And
include as many people as possible as you do this. Incorporate feedback
from customers and employees every step of the way. You’ll have more
and better solutions to the challenges you face as you serve your