As a member of’s Service Cloud team, it’s important for me to enable our clients to deliver stellar customer service.  But can customer service ever go too far?  Over the past few months, I have read several stories in the press about annoyed - even offended - customers who think that service crossed the line.  

One example is Target and their practice of monitoring customers’ spending habits to predict future purchases and thus mail relevant coupons.  This “service” in itself may be shocking to many, but in one case, the company predicted a high school girl’s pregnancy before her father did.  In fact, Target became so accurate in anticipating their customers’ spending habits that they had to mask their efforts by mixing custom-selected products with randomly selected items in their ads.

Target’s use of “predictive analytics” has become widespread but also generated unease in customers.  To avoid such issues, here are a few things your Customer Service organization should NOT be:

1. Oppressive: Make yourself available to your customer, but don’t suffocate them.  Don’t email, tweet, Facebook, call, and text to ensure your customer is satisfied.  One channel is enough.  Use your CRM solution to track which means of communication your customer prefers (and how often).

2. Intrusive: Customers don’t like to feel like they’re being stalked.  Be conservative with predictive analytics, targeted advertising, and other tools to learn more about your customer base. Otherwise, your customer’s privacy has been invaded.

3. Unsafe: Some innovations or practices are downright unsafe.  Fiat’s new in-car espresso machine is an example of endangering their drivers for the sake of convenience.  

Utilize your CRM solution to track which means of communication your customer prefers (and how often).  With this knowledge, you can be sure to delight your customer - and not frighten them.

I want to hear from you: Has customer service ever been oppressive?  Have you ever felt like a company was stalking you? Let us know on our Facebook page, on Twitter, or in the Comments section below.