Illustration by Bronwyn Gruet

The Book That Changed My Customer Service Career

This post is part of The Supportive, Mathew Patterson’s column for customer service professionals. Learn what The Supportive is, or browse through all of the posts from this series.

After an early career as a web designer dating back to the age of Geocities, I joined the email marketing app Campaign Monitor as their first customer service professional.

I knew I had plenty of learning to do, so I read a bunch of customer service and business books. The first book that made a real impact on my thinking about customer service was 2010’s “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit,” by Micah Solomon and Leonardo Inghilleri.

Those early years at Campaign Monitor involved a lot of just keeping up, working the sort of weird, high-growth-startup hours that I would recommend to literally no one today. So when I read this short little book, I was in the perfect place to expand my thinking about why customer service matters and what great service experiences could be.

The content is, by today’s standards, nothing revolutionary. The authors begin with the four basic elements of good service:

  1. A perfect product —
  2. Delivered by a caring, friendly person —
  3. In a timely fashion, with —
  4. The support of an effective problem resolution process.

In later chapters, they focus on the importance of consistent language, well-trained staff, anticipating customer issues before they come up, and measuring your success.

You may be thinking, “Well, that all seems very obvious, Patto,” and you are not wrong. This is not a deeply researched journal article or a technical management book. But at the time, seeing these ideas laid out, clearly argued, and backed up with real examples was genuinely impactful.

It helped me make an important transition from being the “I am the fastest person in the support queue” type of leader to seeing the bigger picture and building an effective customer service team.

For years, I handed every new support team member a copy of this book as a shortcut to a shared idea of the type of service we aimed to deliver. So many of us bring to the role a very limited idea of what tech support can be, based on our past experiences and the opinions of others.

If you’re new to customer service or if it has been a while since you’ve really thought about the big picture, “Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit” is very much worth a read. But I’m not trying to sell you a particular book here. Just because it resonated with me over a decade ago doesn’t mean it is what you need today.

I encourage you to seek out your own inspirations. Take time to get your head out of the queue, and look beyond the tactical information you normally come across. I’ve shared a list of my favorite service-related books before, but it doesn’t even need to be something directly related to customer service.

Find the author, speaker, peer who will change your perspective for the better. If you’ve already found one, please let me know. I’d love to hear it.

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Mathew Patterson
Mathew Patterson

After running a support team for years, Mat joined the marketing team at Help Scout, where we make excellent customer service achievable for companies of all sizes. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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