I've been reading Jeffery Gitomer's Customer Satisfaction is Worthless the last few days, and there is something in the book that bothers me. While the book is pretty good so far, he has slammed automated phone systems for customer service lines several times. Now, I agree with him that it is better to have a real person answer the phone, but it is also more expensive, typically. I can picture shareholders cheering at the cost saving move of buying an automated system, and I can see them cheering at the customer service move of losing the system in favor of real people. It could go either way, depending on the particulars of the situation.
What bothers me about business books is the generalizations they make that aren't always true. I suppose it is a necessary evil of writing a business book, because if it is too specific the market for it is limited. But this book, like most others, is so general in some places that it is tough to see how I could apply it. I may take away general principles like "treat the customer better", but I'm always thinking of that anyway. I think that is why it is so difficult to be highly successful (or repeatedly successful) in business – no two situations are the same. Thus, there are no quick and easy answers, and no one book or idea can stand alone as the Holy Grail of business. Or maybe this is just another case of me being over-ambivalent.