The Kindness Revolution: The Company-Wide Culture Shift that Inspires Phenomenal Customer Service

by Ed Horrell

Ed Horrell writes about poor customer service in American business. “What is really surprising, however, is the number of companies that view service as the item to cut in order to make more money. They decide to focus on getting new customers at the expense of keeping existing customers loyal… They lose sight of the fact that it usually costs around five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to keep an existing one. ”

Horrell describes how mediocre companies “rent” their customers. “These companies aim for customer satisfaction, but satisfied customers are not loyal, they are simply lingering.” He talks about how outstanding companies “own” their customers.  I prefer to think of this as earning customer loyalty rather than customer ownership.

Horrell says that a culture of customer service comes from company values. He describes the onion effect. “Basically, every layer of a company is a reflection of the previous layer’s value system.” He talks about attitude, pride, and trust. “Employee empowerment is also the key to world-class service.”

“Too many companies think there is a quick fix for their customer service problems, as opposed to making a long-term commitment to quality that is accepted by everyone in the organization, top to bottom… The way you treat your employees will be the way they treat your customers.”

He argues that there should be as much effort to achieve zero indifference as there has been towards zero defects. “Some cannot accept my theory that it is not process but people in service that make all the difference… I observe companies that have spent literally millions of dollars on systems looking to fix the indifference in their customer service.”  I take his point, but I think processes and systems can improve the customer experience as well. The book could have been improved by a rigorous copy editing process.

The book profiles eight organizations which demonstrate exemplary customer service: L.L. Bean, St. Jude Children’s Research Center, Chick-fil-A, Ritz-Carlton, Mrs. Fields, Nordstrom, FedEx, and the Baddour Center.

Horrell, Edward. The Kindness Revolution the Company-wide Culture Shift That Inspires Phenomenal Customer Service. New York: AMACOM, 2006. Buy from