Lateral Thinking For Customer Service

Chief Executive profiles an entrepreneurial CEO who talks about "lateral thinking" – taking customer experience in a brand new direction – as one of his keys to success.

My success with Empire Video, as the video chain was called, was built on creating an experience for the video rental customer that he or she had never imagined. First, I opened the biggest, best-designed and most convenient video store in the state. However, a beautiful store with the best selection and easy parking was only the beginning. I inserted tiny video stores into general stores in the surrounding small towns so my customers could conveniently drop off their movies. Then I made free movies available to all of the community's schools, churches and retirement centers. Once I had built my brand and made my business the most popular video store in the state, I was ready to begin developing my most important and revolutionary customer service program. We called it movie matchmaking.

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