Customer Service, Motivation

Black on the Edge of Customer Service

Those of you who know me personally, know I love rage-comic Lewis Black. Those of you who read this blog frequently know that I also love good customer service. So what a treat I got this week when I received the current issue of Fast Company in which they recognize good customer service with their Customer First awards. On the cover was Lewis Black, steam coming out of his ears, with the headline “Is This Your Customer.” For me, this is right up there with their issue titled “The Boss from Hell” that featured Mr. Burns on the cover.

And to top it off, this wasn’t just Lewis Black “modeling” and setting the tone for the issue with a cover photo. There’s actually a great articlewhere “Our customer-service curmudgeon suffers for all of us–but not in silence.” It’s an insightful read that offers a raw take on the state of service today.

Now take a step back and think about the impact of this cover design. (Actually, you could do this with any of Fast Company’s cover designs.) Instead of doing the average BS about “The Customer Service Issue” with some sort of warm and fuzzy customer interaction photo they took it to the edge with the winning concept of the pissed-off customer. But the edge wasn’t far enough so they scooted out a bit more and took it from being a generic pissed-off customer to one of America’s most notorious pissed-off customers.

So, go to the edge and then move out a couple more inches just to make sure you’re far enough!

Take this yet another step back and you can apply the concept of going to the edge to anything from business to backgammon. You can even apply it to the stage persona adopted by Lewis Black. Which would you rather hear? Another comic with a meandering story about airline service gone awry or a jolting rant from a man who appears to be on the verge of an aneurysm? Black even mentions as much in the interview. He recalls studying classical theatre and only discovering comedy because friends told him he was funny when he was pissed off. And the pissed-off thing seems to be working well for Black (regular Daily Show commentaries, three movies coming out, best-selling book, albums, etc.).

So, go to the edge if for no other reason than, to quote a Texas politician, there’s nothing in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos.