Book Review – The Best Service is No Service

By Bob Raida on

One of my favorite business books is The Best Service is No Service by Bill Price and David Jaffe.  Of course, this is not a book about e-business or EDI…but it is very relevant to those of us that are building the right kind of customer interfaces and interactions.  I’m passionate about customer service, so I find the book to be an inspiring read.

The premise of the book is that no one wakes up in the morning excited to call on their vendor for service.  Therefore, it is imperative to create the right processes and systems that prevent the need for service – and make it easy for the customer to get service via the method they prefer when it is needed.

The book is broken into two main areas of focus: the infrastructure of a good service organization, and how to make the most of your infrastructure by using the information that it generates.

The first part of the book, focusing on infrastructure includes topics such as challenging the demand for service, eliminating “dumb” contacts, creating engaging self-service, and being proactive.

The second part of the book relates to organizational culture, and its approach to customer service.  The principles covered in this section include “make it really easy to contact your company”, “own the actions across the company”, “listen and act” and “deliver great customer experiences”.

The book offers a breath of fresh air in two ways.  First, it gives concrete examples of how some common service metrics are not effective (i.e. scrutiny of handle times can cause agents to hurry customers to end the call), and it gives concrete alternative metrics that offer greater insight and are difficult to skew.

The second concept that I found refreshing is that it promotes the idea that the customer service wing should be used as an information gathering system rather than a way to fend off customers.  This is incredibly important, but also very challenging.  The book guides the reader through the appropriate processes and effective metrics to act as the “canary in a coal mine” and bring valuable data to the rest of the organization that can drive additional sales, increase customer satisfaction, and facilitate the creation of better products.

So, you ask, “what has this to do with EDI”?  In fact, it has a lot to do with how an e-business/EDI organization can create an effective infrastructure and culture for service.  At Foundational we’re constantly striving to create a better customer experience, and we realize that the best EDI experience is probably going to be transparent to the customer.  Much like an offensive lineman in American football, the best EDI system is one that you don’t hear about!