No.242: Gordon’s Batphone

Willmot's Weekly Wisdom

Imagine you had a direct service telephone like Commissioner Gordon had to Batman and you’re directly connected with a technical advisor or support agent (from your bank, telco, web hosting provider, or software company) who would do everything in their power to appropriately fix your issues and satisfy your needs.

Now consider how much of a premium you’d be willing to pay over and above what you’d pay a competitor who didn’t offer a direct line to a competent service agent?

The current model of customer service call centres is to employ the cheapest labour to read aloud the script on a computer screen in front of them. But that’s only after you’ve navigated a multitude of options responding to questions by speaking a response or pushing a number.

You have rarely ended a conversation with a call centre thinking, “That was a marvellous experience. That service agent cared and solved my issue in the best possible way”. Most organisations that have longterm customers of significant value — the organisations I named in the opening sentence — ignore the fact that the lifetime value of a customer exceeds $10,000 and focus instead on finding ways to cut the cost of call centres (to a level where genuine service is impossible). They succeed only in aggravating their clients.

Every customer that leaves a business because of poor service, attention and care represents many thousands of dollars in lost future earnings and an erosion of brand reputation. The CFOs might as well put a match to $100,000 in cash every day — it’s the same result.


“Southwest Airlines is successful because the company understands it’s a customer service company. It also happens to be an airline.”