Five Lessons on Customer Service from Derek Sivers | BoS Hangout Recap

“The Important thing is to lose every battle”

Last week, Derek Sivers joined us for a Google Hangout after his ripper of a BoS talk: ‘Philosophies of Customer Service’. Derek was on great form, discussing everything from his experiences as an entrepreneur with CD Baby, to his choice of headphones.


To make it easier to digest, here are five lessons from the hangout (although many, many more can be found in the full video below).

1. Lose every battle.

This was the number one thing to come out of the hangout. With customer service, Derek suggested the customer is always right approach wins as often those who complain loudest, may also be the ones who will praise loudest too. This is not only for the reasons of being a good citizen, but also having a business logic in the way good customer service can be used as a point of differentiation, as Nordstrom have done in the USA.

2. Customer service is a mindset

Derek’s talk was called ‘Philosophy of Customer Service’. Derek suggested in spite of the title, in reality customer service is less a philosophy and more a mindset. He gave the example of a concierge service in a hotel – they will do anything and take any blame for the benefit of the customer’s satisfaction.

3. Put your best people for customer service, on customer service

Derek talked about customer service as a skill. He mentioned his co-worker who possessed the ability to listen and keep cool whilst customers shouted at him for extended periods. He also suggested to find people who possess this skill, recruitment should focus on the platform which they will be using day to day, i.e. if someone is going to be using email, have them use email within the hiring process so you know how they behave on that medium.

4. Tribes are built slowly

Sometimes people ask Derek the question, “how do you build your Twitter following to 250k people?”. Derek suggested that this just through a constant grind and consistently churning out content for a long period of time. This is much the same as customer service in the way reputations are built over a long time.

5. Just because something has been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done better

Much of the conversation focused on entrepreneurial topics in addition to customer service. The idea that most things have already been done was bought up, with Derek attributing his success to ‘ignorant naivety’ when he thought he had found a gap in the market and went for it. It was suggested was that even if an idea isn’t original, it doesn’t mean it cannot be done better. A lesson for many entrepreneurs out there who have been put off in the past!

The full video is below of Derek’s hangout with us. As we look to make this a regular feature we have more speakers lined up for hangouts in the near future, so keep an eye out for announcements on our Twitter.
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