A person on the phone in a coffee house.

Set Goals Devoid Of Platitudes. Instead, Focus On Control.

The end of customer service (and the start of happy customers).

You sit, reviewing your bills like you do each morning. Everything looks fine until you notice that one of your monthly expenses is larger than normal. And, come to think of it, that bill has actually been high for the last few months.

Looks like they increased your payment without telling you.

And you don’t like that.


Decision trees

You decide to call and get to the bottom of it. Not a problem, you think, this will get resolved in a matter of minutes. You jump on the phone and call customer service. Simple enough.

You go through the expected hassle of automated decision trees – pressing three for the billing department, six to speak with a representative, upon which, a robotic voice informs you that the current wait time is 45 minutes.

That’s annoying. You press two and opt to have them call you when they’re ready.


A test of patience

While you wait, you decide to see if their chat feature is any more efficient. It’s not.

It’s just a bot routing you to generic FAQ’s. Great. Frustrated, you sit by your phone in the hopes that they will soon call. Time goes by and the usual bout of social media scrolling and text sending has taken its toll; your phone’s nearly dead.

You go and plug it in.

Just then, a Slack notification pops up that pulls you to your computer. You swiftly respond to your colleague and return back to your phone to find… what’s this?… a missed call notification from… oh no. After waiting two+ hours, you’ve missed your callback from customer service!


Maybe you can still catch them

You anxiously return the call, hoping to speak with a real human. If only you were so lucky.

Instead, an automated voice answers and, coldly, explains that the current wait time is two hours and seven minutes. Fuming, you press two once again and wait for a customer service representative to call you back… during which time you get quotes online from their competitors.

It’s time to make a change.


Two eggs with faces drawn on them.


The present landscape of customer service

How did we get to this point? Surely, the businesses that set up these labyrinths did so with the best of intentions. After all, they too are customers. And yet, things have gone awry.

They’re doing their best. They’re probably aware of the situation and want to remedy it – which I fully applaud. They may have even set a goal for their organization that looks something like this: We will have the best customer service experience in the industry.

Yet however virtuous this goal may seem, it is flawed and needs serious adjusting; for this goal is an empty promise with a vague objective.


The problem with platitudes

When you set a goal that utilizes platitudes, generalities, or cliches, you end up saying nothing and doing nothing. Why? Because the goal doesn’t have any real sincerity behind it.

What does have the best customer service experience in the industry even mean? You can’t dictate what your competitors do, so being the best in the industry is irrelevant. It’s an imaginary aim. Furthermore, who even defines what best is?

Your nephew in fourth grade? Your great aunt? Who is the decider of best?


You need control

Ambiguous language leads to ambiguous results. Instead, when setting a goal, you want to be sincere. Really consider what it is that you want to achieve. And then, set that goal. A good way to look at the concept of sincerity is through the lens of control.

More than anything else, you need to set a goal within your control.

Now, that’s going to look different depending on your industry and ideals, but here are some examples nevertheless:

  • For the next three months, ensure that the average customer call wait time is two minutes or fewer.
  • Or, for each customer that calls in for the month, spend at least ten minutes on the phone with them so as to better get to know them (thus developing a relationship between the customer and your brand).
  • Or, each quarter, fix one major bug that customers frequently complain about.


People pointing at a computer screen.


The benefits of control

Notice how the examples are clearly defined and completely within your control.

You either fix the bug or you don’t. You either talk for ten minutes or you don’t. There are few, if any, outside forces adding variability.

Setting a goal within your control solves several problems. First, it causes you to get specific about what you want, thus avoiding platitudes and cliches. Second, it puts the responsibility on you. As I mentioned, you either do the work or you don’t.

And thirdly, it helps you recognize what the priority is. And with that newfound focus, you can put your attention towards it.


Generalities lead nowhere

It’s easy to set ambitious goals. Things like… I want to:

  • Read more
  • Weigh less
  • Make more
  • Be more confident

But until you remove their ambiguity, you will make no progress towards them. So instead, add some sincerity to your goals. Add some intentionality. Set goals within your control.

Ones that are free from cliches and are instead tailored to you and your desires.


Control-centric goals

Here’s a better way to phrase the above goals, keeping the lessons of this post in mind.

  • Read five pages of a book each day
  • Go for a 30-minute run at least once a week
  • Send 100 cold emails to prospective clients a month
  • Each morning, look in the mirror for five minutes and repeat, “I am awesome!”

Notice the difference. There are no generalities. You know what you need to do. Furthermore, each of those goals is within your control. You either read or you don’t. It is entirely up to you to do the work – it’s a good thing.


Change your goals moving forward

Take a look at your goals.

Are they riddled with ambiguity? What about cliches? Or worse yet, platitudes? If so, revise them. Change them into ones that are sincere, specific to your circumstances, and within your control.

Don’t have the best customer service experience in the industry. Instead, each quarter, fix one major bug that customers frequently complain about. In that respect, you’ll eventually be able to remove the need for customer service altogether!

Something we can all benefit from.


PS: Let me show you how to achieve your goals.

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