Customer Service Lessons
from Tony Soprano and Club Med
This article is based on Cathy's
ebook, and Cathy's .
Whether you work one-to-one or
deal with customers in groups, you identify a target market of
customers most likely to value what you can offer. You design
processes to fit the tastes of those clients. You anticipate
Ideally, you recruit new customers
who fit your target customer profile, but sometimes you attract
a customer who doesn't belong. These customer misfits can drain
your energy, alienate other customers and fail to recognize the
value you provide through your service.
A lesson from
For an extreme example of the
wrong client, watch a few episodes of The Sopranos, an HBO mega-hit.
No HBO? Your video store probably has tapes of the first two
Almost every episode includes
scenes between mob boss Tony Soprano and his psychiatrist, Janet
Melfi. These scenes are so realistic that professional psychotherapy
associations have included them in training programs.
From a customer service perspective,
the psychiatrist seems overwhelmed by her notorious client. She
can't resist hinting at his identity during a dinner party.
And Tony in turn is dangerous to his therapist. His curiosity
about her background goes well beyond the average client's harmless
fantasy, as he orders a wayward cop to follow her around for
a few days.
Tony means well. When the therapist's car breaks down, her patient
simply "borrows" the car and arranges for a repair
at one of the "family" garages. He brushes away the
therapist's concern about boundaries.
Your client will most likely
be less connected, less violent and less persistent. But you
may find yourself dealing with someone who is equally determined
not to play by your rules.
A lesson from Club Med
The wrong customer can harm everyone
and experienced service companies know it. Suppose you signed
up for Club Med with the idea that you were going on a retreat,
where the "wild night out" would be a fireside poetry
As soon as you realize your mistake,
Club Med will fly you back home and refund all your money. Bad
attitudes are contagious.
You may not be as focused as
Club Med, but your process will most likely work best with a
certain type of client. A cynical client will challenge your
value. A client who trusts without questions will easily feel
Service businesses thrive on
established processes and systems to serve clients, rather than
relying on ad hoc "whatever happens" policies. The
"wrong client" drains energy and can drive away "right"
By staying focused you can direct
energy to building relationships with customers who enjoy each
other's company and help you find others who, like them, will
value what you offer.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Author, Career Consultant, Speaker
*Fast Track to Career Freedom*