Lessons from Last Week: What We Can Learn From ‘Customer Service Strategy: To Serve and Protect’

Last week, I recommended that we all read Shep Hyken’s article, Customer Service Strategy: To Serve and Protect. For those of you who missed it, Hyken speaks about the importance of vocabulary in customer service- that one slight change of terminology can have a positive impact on both company morale and on the end consumer. He brings forth the example of the word “client”. By definition, a client is “one that is under the protection of another”. By using the word client, we are constantly reminded to put customer interests first, so that we protect them. It’s a great read and if you missed it, I urge you to do so.

I thought this was a really interesting idea so I did a little research of my own. My findings were quite fascinating so I thought I’d share them with you.

Jeff Toister, a Customer Service Expert, wrote for a blog post, which identifies word association as a powerful priming tool. What we call our customers influences the way the interaction is carried out.

Micah Solomon, writing for Forbes online, boldly states in his article that there is no “customer”: there is only the individual- “There’s only one customer, the one you’re facing. The one you need to follow up with, to make sure her problem was successfully resolved. There’s only Jim. One Margo. One Alicia.”

Similarly, we see this personalization being used by many SaaS vendors. When ‘Jim’ logs back on, he is greeted with a “Hello, Jim”. Online services and softwares track their users’ individual actions so that they can better predict challenges ahead and quickly provide solutions. In fact, these systems are at an advantage because they are capable of remembering things that the average employee may forget or overlook. New, friendly terminology may serve as this subtle reminder to employees to interact with the individual behind the screen or phone.

Take time this week to reflect on your business’s terminology. See if there’s room for improvement so that your employees can better meet to customer needs.


Amy Clark is the Lead Author & Editor of IWantItNow Blog. Amy established the Customer Engagement blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to customer service, support and engagement.