Articles and Resources.

On this page you will find dozens of articles and resources that we have published over the years.
Click on a theme on the right to find what interests you most.
(The three most recent articles published are shown below.)

Time to Clear Out Customer Service Winter Blues

While you are putting away your winter clothes and cleaning out all the accumulated dust from winter, make sure to take time to do some spring cleaning around the office or business too. Here are s...

Ten Lessons About Service

After twenty five years in the world of customer care, I have come to the conclusion that getting it right doesn't take too much. Here are ten lessons that you can start with.

The Association of Grumpy Customer Care Staff

Is there a world conspiracy of bad service? It sometimes seems like people everywhere share a common desire to be as bad as possible at taking care of customers

The Big Gorilla Sits Wherever He Wants To… Or Maybe Not

Large businesses can make a big difference to society at large - but the way they treat customers leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, service is often appalling. They can learn a lot from smaller ...

The Essence of Sales - Woody Martin

How often have you heard the phrase "sell the sizzle, not the steak"? Well, here is a true story about Woody Martin, a cigarette salesman who sold a box of matches for a dollar - in the 1960s. He d...

The Honeymoon Should Never Be Over

Romancing your prospects and customers is a good strategy - but it should never end once the contract is signed and you are wedded together. Long term marriages require a lot of hard work.

The Power of Paying Compliments

Paying someone a compliment is so simple and it's absolutely free. Why don't we do it more often, given that it has such a positive effect on people?

To Use Customer Loyalty Programmes - or Not

Customer Loyalty Programmes usually create more problems that they solve, and are often seen as a silver bullet to solve problems with marketing or service. This is not always a good strategy

Top Tips for Creating Customer Experiences

To create unbelievable, personal, memorable and newsworthy experiences for customers is not hard. Here are some ideas

Turning Ducks into Eagles

We all know that the best customer service has little to do with systems, processes, loyalty programmes and similar unless you first get your staff on board. The biggest challenge facing you is how...

Twelve Lessons from 25 Years

What are the most critical things that companies need to do to attract and keep their customers? In this article you will find a summary of the twelve most important strategic actions your business...

Twelve Quick Ways to Build Customer Loyalty – a Key Account Management Approach

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of ways to build customer loyalty. Here we look at it from the viewpoint of a typical key account management approach, and look at the lessons from the way a ...

Value Innovation and Blue Ocean Strategy

In a world where everything we buy just seems the same, some companies have used innovation to give their customers amazing experiences – and create long-term loyalty. This article discusses how W ...

Waiting for the Next Hit That Goes Viral

How does a video go viral on YouTube? In this article we look at a number of ideas that will help you to stand out from your rivals by being interesting rather than invisible - and managing your ow...

What Do You Give Someone Who Has Everything?

Creating special, magical, personal and memorable experiences for your customers doesn't have to cost a fortune - but you may change their lives - and their loyalty - forever.

What I Learned from the Fire Department

They way the fire department and other emergency services respond to crises can teach us a lot about dealing with customer complaints in businesses. Her are some tips.

What the Heck Were They Thinking?

Companies of do really dumb things that just don't make sense at all. They lose deals because of this, and also risk losing their customers forever.

When 3-Star Beats 5-Star

You would imagine that a five-star hotel experience would be vastly superior to a three-star experience, but occasionally you would be mistaken. What does it take to beat your more expensive and ex...

When a Whole Industry Needs to Take Responsibility

So Many companies refuse to do the right thing, starting with simple things like dumping concrete in public areas to treatinga whole bunch of customers shoddily and unethically. We examine alternat...

When Customers Go on the Warpath

What happens when a customer complaint explodes and is reported in both the traditional and social media? Companies need to react, or they will pay a heavy price.

When Delighting Your Customers Isn’t Enough

So many businesses want to focus on the glamorous creation of "Moments of Wow!" that will create customer loyalty, but they are hard to sustain and repeat. On the other hand, if companies focused o...

When Rules MUST Be Broken

Rules and bureaucracy are sometimes necessary for the smooth running of your business - but they are incredibly dangerous when they lead to unhappy customers and bad experiences.

Where Does the Practice of Tipping Staff End?

Tipping is a practice which, in theory, ensures that service staff provide better experiences to customers. In practice, there is no guarantee, and it can become quite an expensive option.

Where is Your Next Whack-on-the-Side-of-the-Head Going to Come From?

With "shadow banking" now responsible for 25% of the whole financial services industry activity, short-sighted executives did not see that customer frustration would move them to seek other alterna...

Why Is It So Overcrowded in Some Stores?

Managers sometimes don't understand how important is the look and feel of the physical environment of their businesses. In this article we take a look at the problem of using customer space to pack...

Why I’ll Probably Never Drive a BMW

BMW makes beautiful cars - but not everyone wants to drive one. The perceptions of what a brand represents - and how inclusive it is - can seriously influence buying behaviour.

Why you need to work as hard to keep your customers, as you did to get them

When a business opens its door for the first time, its main focus is getting customers. But what is equally important, and often neglected, is developing a strategy to keep clients.

Why Youth Day Should Be Celebrated

Youth Day is celebrated in South Africa every year on 16 June, but now it's also time for business to celebrate what young people bring to their organisations. If they don't, they may find themselv...

Would You Tuck Your Customers Into Bed One Night?

Even though some customers are really unlovable, love them anyway. After all, if Richard Branson can tuck them in at night, why not you?

Your Customers Are Ready – But Are You?

Your customers have probably already made 60% of the buying decision before they contact you. How can you be sure that they buy from your company rather than one of your rivals? In this article we ...

Your Customers Are Ready. Are You?

Most customers today have done their homework before inviting suppliers to do business. They not only know exactly what they want, but also how much they want to pay, who else supplies the same, an...


With only a couple of weeks to go until Christmas, shoppers are starting to feel a bit stressed by the insane nightmare of mass advertising, crowded shopping malls, overstretched banks, and busines...

10 Golden Rules of Delighting Customers

Of course it is impossible to write 10 rules that will apply in all businesses, but this is a good start. What do you need to do to Delight Your Customers?

14 Words Customers Really Want to Hear From You

Doing something nice for a customer always creates an obligation to repay the favour, and you should always be willing to help them out of a tight spot.

2016: Year of the Consumer Snitch

Never waste a good crisis… this advice to business leaders was bandied about during the global financial meltdown and subsequent recession. Well, another crisis is on the way and winners and losers...

30 Reasons Why You Must Delight Your Customers

Have you ever been uncertain about whether customer care is worth it? In this short article we list 30 good reasons why it is such a good idea to take care of customers. In this section you will al...

82 Ways to Add Value for Customers

Adding value for customers - continuously, and innovatively - is essential for creating customer loyalty, but it doesn't have to cost you a lot. Here is a (longish) summary of all 82 ideas

A Nation of Thugby* Enthusiasts

South Africans - like many other nationalities - are brought up to fight for everything, to defend everything aggressively, to never surrender. That's great if you are fighting a war, but not so go...

A Priest on a 'Plane

Taking care of customers and doing good for others is also good for us. After a chance encounter with a priest on an airplane trip, Aki Kalliatakis realised that this is the purpose of life.

Advertising is Not Dead - Yet. But it is on Life Support

Companies persist in wasting money and time doing advertising, promotions and sales using methods that have become obviously useless, and it now worse with internet and smartphones. What is the alt...

Easter the Time to Get Cracking On Service Improvements

As we approach Easter and the beginning of winter, the time to create warmth and spread good news with little things is ripe. Here are some examples.

Advertising is the Price You Pay for Being Unremarkable

Jeff Bezos made this quotation in his report to shareholders in 2009, and it is more true today than ever before. Why don't companies use the power of referrals and recommendations to keep customer...

Always, Always, the Little Things

On a cold and wet London morning after a long and tiring flight, one special young man made the world of difference, and used the first three minutes of engagement to make the whole trip worthwhile. versus the World

No-one will argue that has changed the way customers buy things forever, and in a very positive way for customers. But what can traditional retailers like Exclusive Books do to prevent a...

Another Way to Rip Off Your Customers

In times like these, companies look for whatever advantages they can in order to remain profitable. But it's a bad strategy to steal from your customers.

Are Delighted Customers Always Loyal Customers?

For a few decades we have believed that having delighted customers translates into the elusive goal of having loyal customers. And while there is a small correlation, sadly, it’s not always true.

Are We Customer Driven?

Is your company customer-driven? In this article we identify the most important characteristics of a company that manages its customers properly.

Arrested for Hugging

We have somehow forgotten what it means to be human, but every day people who deal with customers are given a magical opportunity to do something nice - and also benefit in the process.

Back to the Floor, Boss

"Undercover Boss" is a reality-TV programme where executives from large companies go out in disguise to work with their employees in the front lines. Are there lessons for managers here?

Be Gentle on Your Customers

Bad manners never gets you anywhere in life, and even more so when you need the cooperation and support of your customers. It seems some companies will never get it.

Blinded by Company Loyalty

Previously successful companies often suffer from complacency and denial, and this leads to serious problems for the business. How can this be avoided?

Boost your business this Spring

Spring has sprung, (at least in the southern hemisphere,) and it's time now to take a fresh look at refreshing and re-vitalising your customers' experiences.

Breaking the Rules

Entrepreneurs know what they need to do to succeed - and a lot has got to do with the way they treat customers. They are unfettered by "the rules," and indeed relish the thought of doing something ...

Bringing Happiness to Others, We Find Ours

Happiness seems elusive for all of us living in "interesting" times. Few businesses truly and genuinely make employees happy; but most customer-facing people can find ways of doing this for themsel...

C.R.M. Can Be Really Magical – When It Works

Companies spend fortunes on expensive CRM systems, but more often they are used to save money rather than make the lives of customers better. Here's how to make sure it pays off.

Practical Tips on Customer care

There is a growing trend towards customer self-service in business today, and it's usually introduced to save the company money on operational costs. But will your customers hate it as much as they...

Customer self-service

Customers are not always rational, but canny businesses will know exactly what to do to make them come back by giving them amazing service experiences

Delight Your Customers! - Issue 1

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but this I know: the only ones amongst you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve." Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Prize winner

Diamonds May Be Forever - But That's Not What YOU Sell

Most managers believe that they need to differentiate their brand by offering something that is unique and distinct, but unless you get the basics incredibly right, no amount of "fancy" stuff will ...

Does Showrooming Mean Death to Your Business?

"Showrooming" is the practice used by customers to physically examine and compare products that they want to buy - before ordering the same products online probably for a lot less. Does this spell ...

Don't Forget to Chase the Small Spenders Too

There simply aren't enough Highly profitable customers to go around, and yet most firms place a large emphasis on chasing and rewarding these. Isn't it time to take care of the small customers too?

Don't Just Chase the Big Spenders

The large number of small customers are often denigrated and ignored in favour of the large and profitable customers in most businesses. Yet the "long tail" of smaller customers are also valuable, ...

Don’t Burden your Customers with Your Problems

When faced with challenges that make life difficult, many companies insist on making this their customers' problem, and burdening them with additional difficulties and inconvenience. Reduce your cu...

Elections … The Customer Satisfaction Survey With a Kick

The ultimate customer loyalty survey occurs when we vote for our next government. Just as in commerce, it's not always rational, but at least we get a chance to vote if we are unhappy with the su...

First Impressions Really Count

It is often said that "Your attitude will determine your altitude," but what should people who deal with customers say and do to achieve success? Some practical hints about how you come across may ...

How Do You Keep the Excitement Going?

Whenever a company embarks on a process to create a culture that delights customers and creates loyalty, we usually recognise four very distinct phases in the process: Awareness, evangelical, frust...

Customer Management Strategy

They’re here, a whole new generation of ‘Teens’ and ‘Tweens’, the 15 to 25 year olds of today, making up around 24% of the population, who will change the face of retail shopping and already deman...

How Hard Can It Be?

Some businesses seem to go out their way to make things hard for customers, causing endless frustration for customers - and their staff. How hard can it be to identify and analyse the "dumb things"...

How to save your business from difficult customers

Unhappy customers often show poor courtesy, rudeness and bad behaviour when they are unhappy. Some of the “lesser” bad behaviours include cheap shots, cynicism, and sarcasm, but can also include ex...

I Was There!

Positive word of mouth is very powerful for any business, and can be managed. But it doesn't happen on its own. Try some of these ideas.

If you think customers were fussy in 2013...

If you think customers were fussy in 2013, wait until you see what's coming in 2014! In this article we look at 6 trends that you will need to respond to in 2014.

Is 2015 Going to be About Many Black Fridays?

Where are businesses going in 2015 in creating loyal customers? In this article we look at 15 irreversible trends that you must respond to - or fail.

Is It a Job or Is It a Calling?

In all industries, there is a small core group of people who love what they do, and are passionate about taking care of customers. In this article we focus on the rare hospital experiences that go ...

Is It Time to Dump the Idea of "Internal Customers"?

Many organisations seem to spend a lot of time and resources taking care of employees and "internal customers." But is enough spent to make sure that real customers with real money are taken care of?

Is There a Drug Against Rage?

Calming down unhappy and angry customers may not be as difficult as you think. The skill of empathy is probably the most powerful tool you have in calming them down, and connecting with people gene...

Is There a More Arrogant Company than MultiChoice/DStv?

Cable TV provider Multichoice/DStv have been completely incompetent in resolving a simple customer problem. What can your business learn from their failures?

Less Victims and More Heroes Needed

All companies can learn lessons from the way in which hotels deal with their customers. Some are very positive lessons, but some come out of really awful experiences.

Lessons from Sushi Bars, Magicians and SwansWhere Has My Simple, Uncomplicated Life Gone?

Life for most customers has become very complicated as companies have grown bigger and bigger. But some businesses have decided to reduce customer effort and hassles to a minimum. How can you do th...

Let’s See How Rude We Can Be!

Emails are never a good source of communication with customers, but it's even worse when they are not used properly

Lipstick on the Mirror

Most organisations do really dumb things sometimes - and pay the price. Sometimes a simple solution can make a big difference.

Lobster Was Once a Prison Food!

It's always amazing how customers perceptions of value influence their purchases. You can influence these in a very powerful way.

Loyalty? Don't Make Me laugh

True customer loyalty is enduring, and there is an emotional bond between your customers and your business. If you have to bribe or incentivise them to buy from you, that doesn't count.

Marketing Lessons from a Cretan Wedding

Weddings can be incredibly expensive events, but people don't seen to mind paying a lot of money for the event. But that is changing, and the world of marketing is doing the same.

Miao! & Woof! How to Deal With Pets in Your Business

When customers come into your business bringing their pets, it can create problems for you. Here we examine some possible solutions to avoid trouble

Nanny state rescues banks, but you’re on your own

Every few months yet another law seems to be passed to "protect" us to the point where it seems impossible to do anything without too much bureaucracy. It doesn't work!

No Company is Untouchable Anymore

It is impossible to keep a lid on lies and cheating. You can post your version of events on your web-site. You can release a press statement. It doesn’t matter. By the time you react, considerable ...

No, You CAN'T Have It All

In today's turbulent times, many companies are cutting back on quality and service. If customers think that prices don't show the same decrease, you will get into trouble.

Customer self-service

So many businesses become so enamoured with their products and offering that they forget that it's about what customers need and want. Getting a video camera to produce some simple YouTube videos t...

Of Airplanes and Things

How do you respond when you have a better experience for a much cheaper fare on a flight? After initial trepidation, I booked on and got a lovely surprise. The people were delightful, I ...

One-Stop Shopping in All Businesses?

In a world where customers' lives have become very complicated, some businesses take the trouble to create convenience and simplicity for their customers. Here we share some examples... and dream a...

Pink Jerseys and Pearls

We all have some special little weakness that seems to be a great turn on. (In Aki's case it's women who wear pink jersies and pearls.) What if we were able to tap into our customers' deepest needs?

Please Pick Me!

The enthusiasm of small children in a classroom can also inspire people in business. How can we get adult employees to imitate the energy of children whose teacher asks a question and the little ha...

Problem Recovery, the Maslow Hotel Way

It really doesn't take very much to recover from something that goes wrong. Here are some ideas from a potentially disastrous experience at a hotel where the managers and staff took action which gu...

Practical Tips on Customer care

There are probably thousands of things that you can do to get staff motivated about delighting their customers. Here are a few examples of what you can do to prevent complacency and boredom.

Romance Your Customers

Most businesses insist on using the "spray and pray" approach to marketing, which is the equivalent of marching up to all the women in a single's bar and proposing marriage. Those days are over, an...

Rugby on Saturday Is Just Not Enough

Managers sometimes really have to rack their brains to come up with new ideas to add value for their customers - and keep them loyal. In fact, there are at least 82 ways to do this.

Same Old, Same Old... And I Love It

Sometimes in this complicated world we need to give customers products and experiences that are consistently the same as they always were.

So Many Angels in My Life

Angels may exist in heaven, but there are so many wonderful people in businesses who have gone out of their way to help. Here we share some stories of real inspiring people who have made a difference.

So Who Gives the Best Service?

Who are the people that give the best service? Are there some lessons to be learned about different people? And is there a list of characteristics of people who are good with customers?

Some Will Get It... Some Never Will

Can you coach someone with a bad attitude? Probably not, but how do you recognise people with a good attitude?

Sometimes Self-Service is the Best Service

The world of customers seems to have become awfully complicated, but there are lots of ways in which you can reduce their effort and simplify their lives.

Stop Trespassing on My Real Estate

Companies today are looking for any way to promote mass advertising, and they are using the internet to do so. They are making more enemies than friends by pushing unsolicited and unwelcome adverts...

Is the World Really That Bad?

The world is seemingly filled with bad news - but that is not always true. Your business can delight customers by reminding them about the good news.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

How to deal with the inevitable delays and queues that keep customers waiting in frustration