The more you experiment, try new things and stretch yourself as a company, the more your customers will tell everyone they meet that your service is right on the cutting edge.

That was my lasting takeaway from our awesome, recent customer service webinar titled Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and Are Changing. I was lucky to moderate our always entertaining FPG contributor Chip Bell as he painted memorable story after story about how the world of customer service is changing and how we, as companies that cater to people and relationships, can keep up.

At FPG, we recognized the need for our own clients in 2016 when we ramped up our Service Unleashed program in partnership with Chip and our own Jamey Lutz. The program helps companies unleash their customer service and take it to new levels with cutting-edge teaching relevant to the changing world we live in.

This quote from Chip early on set the tone, which also forms the backbone of his new book Wired and Dangerous.

“We have customers now who are wired and dangerous. They’re connected, and because they’re connected in far-reaching ways they have the capacity to be your absolute hero but they also have the power to bring you down.”

The modern age and our shift toward using services like Yelp and Angie’s List has moved the entire concept of power in favor of the customer. Buyers have more options and information than ever, which is why it’s important to devise a strategy that allows your own customers to spread the word about why you’re on the cutting edge. Selling yourself is important, but having consumers sell you to other consumers can be even more powerful.

So how do you do it? For CEOs, it’s about using your frontline folks like scouts to get a sense of how customers’ habits and wants are changing. As Chip says, if you were a leader for a wilderness fort in the old west, would you tell a frightened scout who returned to your fort with wide eyes that you had a meeting and you’d get to them later? Of course not. You’d listen to them immediately, because learning what they’ve seen is a matter of your fort’s survival.

And for those frontline customer service folks, it’s all about having the biggest possible impact in your own personal sphere of influence. Create an atmosphere of cutting edge service and live to provide those small touches that create an unforgettable experience.

Chip is one of my very favorite storytellers, and in typical fashion he didn’t let us down in our webinar. He shared a story about my second love (behind only selling); branding. So if you would, please read the rest of this paragraph in a decadent southern accent to fully immerse yourself in the spirit of the story. The term brand comes from the original practice of branding cattle before the days of fencing (the irony of his story about branding being so perfectly Chip Bell is not lost on me). This wasn’t just to identify the cattle, but to let everyone know who owned them. Ownership is literally in the original definition of the term brand.

Too many organizations forget that they have to reach customers by giving them that ownership mindset. It’s not just about going to a Starbucks. It’s about going to my Starbucks. That means giving cutting-edge service and giving customers a customizable experience that they feel “gets” them on some emotional level. And for Starbucks, that means things like inviting public work spaces and pumpkin spice lattes in the fall.

If we’re all in the selling business in one way or another, then we’re all definitely in the customer service business. We can’t get away from remembering that service is all about a relationship, and we have to keep that emotional connection in mind at all times. The best way to do that in fast-changing times is to make sure we’re always keeping our ear to the ground and catering not just to the customer’s needs, but to things the customer doesn’t even know they need yet.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, once said that in the physical world an unhappy customer tells six people, while in the cyber world they can reach 6,000. It’s no surprise then that Amazon’s stayed ahead of the publicity curve by constantly innovating. And if their drone delivery service turns out to be the new norm, who could’ve seen that coming five years ago?

At FPG we believe this is the key to thriving, unleashed customer service. Stay on the crest of the wave and you can ride it all the way to success.


Mary Marshall is the VP of Sales & Marketing at FPG and delivers sold-out seminars and coaching sessions all over the country. She’s an integral part of FPG’s mission to deliver cutting-edge training programs to companies that drive profit through people and emphasizes that everyone is “enough.”

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