Recently my business partner Steve wrote a post about Zappos generating more than 1 billion USD in sales over 2009 with more than 75% being repeat business. They sell shoes and clothing online. But as he points out, they actually sell customer service. It truly is at the heart of their business model.

When you see their amazing level of customer service, it automatically makes me think of all the times I haven’t been treated well as a customer.

A recent personal experience

I’ve been a loyal Vodafone customer for years. When I wanted the new Google Nexus phone, I called them. They told me they didn’t stock it and suggested I go somewhere else. That’s it. Nothing else. They didn’t ask me why I wanted the Nexus, suggest an alternative, point me in the right direction. See if they could help. They just told me to go elsewhere. That’s definitely not what I call good customer service.

I ended up getting my free Google Nexus One phone through an online vendor. But guess what? I still prolonged my subscription with Vodafone.


There are only two operators that have good reception in the Netherlands: KPN and Vodafone. I have had bad customer service experiences with both, so why should I bother changing provider? There simply isn’t the choice.

Now what?

Personally, as soon as someone offers me better choice, better customer service, I’m leaving Vodafone.

It’s now July 2010. Dutch Telcos are still in the unit shifting mode. Customer service is still a low priority. But, as markets continue to open up, competition will increase. And as competition increases, customer service will become more and more important. It will become the difference between a thriving brand, and a dying brand.


Zappos customers will keep on creating new customers. Vodafone customers will soon be someone else’s customers.

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