Why You Must Take the Monkey Off Your Customer’s Back

In my Daily Dose video series, I explore the topics that chief customer officers must grapple with on a daily basis. Join me as I discuss what I’ve learned over the course of my 35-year career, so that you can more effectively do the work that needs to be done.

Today’s video is an excerpt from my online course, inspired by my book, Would You Do That To Your Mother? Click here to learn more about the course and enroll. 

The following is a lightly edited transcript of the video below.


Sometimes in our lives as customers when we need help our own fortitude and ability to fend for ourselves determines the outcome. The extra mile customer with the gusto to call and call, search, act as a private eye, and put the pieces together and make copies and send files and return receipts gets the worm. Companies put the monkey on customer’s backs and the result is service exhaustion. We’re glad for the outcome received, but we don’t know if we have it in us to do it again.

This occurs as customer request for support or information or assistance are met with a set of actions—or monkeys—that the customer must take or wait for or persist in checking up on. And the customer who can’t keep calling back or searching for answers is just as worn out as the extra mile customer.

Companies put the monkey on customer's backs and the result is service exhaustion. We're glad for the outcome received, but we don't know if we have it in us to do it again. End service exhaustion! #MakeMomProud #CX Click To Tweet

Recognize the Consequences of the Monkey on Your Customer’s Back

Globally, 56% of respondents in Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report have actually ceased doing business with the brand because of poor service experiences.

Would you make your mom do extra work that you could have done for her? End service exhaustion.

The Make-Mom-Proud companies think about all of the steps, and the people, and the processes that it takes to get certain things done, and they resist layering work on customers. They work to remove the monkeys off customers’ backs.

Monkeying Around with Healthcare

Healthcare is one industry that delivers a lot of those monkeys. We are often left to our own devices to ensure that all of our healthcare records, for example, travel with us as we move to different healthcare providers. Mayo Clinic calls this the burden of care. And because many record keeping systems are not yet connected, we are still burdened with carrying x-ray films and test results, and filling out numerous forms ourselves to get them transferred from one physician’s office to the next.

And for those who have numerous medications to manage, the maze is even more complex. Patients have to then connect the dots to ensure that medications prescribed from one physician to another don’t cause adverse reactions.

One Make-Mom-Proud action to support the elderly most prone to this complexity is called the Pharmacy Home Project. This service, run by Community Care of North Carolina, guides elderly patients to help them coordinate all of their medications to prevent those adverse reactions. They actually travel home with patients, examine what’s in their medicine cabinet, and help them navigate the complicated maze of managing multiple medications prescribed by separate physicians.

And while we might expect monkeys in complex industries such as healthcare, it’s always a bit startling when they’re layered on us when we least expect it, when the solution we thought should have been so simple. Monkeys pop up in every industry.

End the Monkey Business

The Make-Mom-Proud companies know that the more monkeys or the more work they put on customers’ backs, the more customers will talk about the experience and how much pain the company put them through. And this is not because of the joy, but because of the experience—or you might say the monkey business.

As you think of that story, think about customer experiences with you. What extra work have you layered on your customers? Are there any monkeys that remain? And have you taken any off lately?

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