Don’t Let Your Service Become a Typewriter


Digital natives view a typewriter as truly an antique. Digital immigrants recall the challenge of carbon paper, white-out, ribbons, and being amazed when typewriters became electric!  But, whether you are over or under 50, the keyboard your modern laptop uses and the one on your grandfather’s Remington or Royal are identical.  The story goes that the early keyboard was designed to slow you down!  We will explain.

The early typewriters attached keys to a levered character printer that worked a lot like a piano key that makes a felt covered hammer hit the piano string.  The problem was as people got more proficient their fingers could type faster than the levered printer could move causing them to cross with other levers and hang up.  August Dvorak in 1936 created the current QWERTY keyboard ostensibly to simplify the keyboard but some claim it was designed to slow the typist.  The facts may be in dispute but the metaphor holds.

Customers have a new concept of speed.  Faxes are now considered so slow that we rarely use them.  Email is being replaced with text messaging. has elevated the turnaround time standard for all e-tailers.  It means your customers expect service processes to expedite service not retard it.  They want your processes to allow service delivery to go just as fast as they want it, not be restricted by your policies, procedures or practices.  If there are shortcuts, they want you to tell them about it!  How can you keep your service processes from becoming like a typewriter?

Read a great article from the New York Times by Randall Stross on the power of today’s wired and dangerous customers which talks about “power blogger” Heather Armstrong also discussed in chapter 4 of our new book Wired and Dangerous; How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do about it.

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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