10 Customer Service TED Talks to Get Inspired By

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Swetha Amaresan
Swetha Amaresan



When you've been working the same job for several months or even years, it's easy to fall into a rut. The work feels monotonous. Sometimes, you can't quite remember what drove you into that career in the first place.


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This mindset can occur in customer service, too. As much as you love the company you represent and the customers you've met, you might have some days when you lack motivation.

That's when TED talks come in.

There are TED talks to inspire people in all aspects of life, reframe widely-accepted thinking, and bring light to creative changes people are making around the world. Naturally, there are many TED and TEDx talks centered around customer service that similarly inspire people in the field to remember the importance of what they do and learn new ways to approach their work.

Watch some of the following TED and TEDx talks to get inspired in your customer service career.

10 Customer Service TED Talks to Get Inspired By

1. "The post-crisis consumer" by John Gerzema

John Gerzema touches on the financial crisis of 2009. While many businesses suffered and worried about this crisis, Gerzema had a more optimistic view. He took it as an opportunity for customers to tell business what they want and have them guide businesses in the right direction, post-crisis.

He uses four major cultural shifts — such as an increase in value-seeking from purchases and wanting empathy and respect from brands — to show how businesses can support customers in their desire for more thoughtful spending. These are values that all customer service representatives should consider when serving their customers.

2. "What consumers want" by Joseph Pine

Joseph Pine discusses what consumer truly want from brands — authenticity. In this humorous TED talk, he talks about how the very idea of authenticity is fake. No matter what brands do, they're putting on some sort of facade to convince consumers to choose them over competitors.

So, he illustrates some examples of companies like Starbucks, who invest in a type of authenticity. Starbucks creates an atmosphere that's unique to the brand and that motivates customers to want to experience that atmosphere for themselves.

When building this authentic experience, your customer service is no exception. In every customer interaction, customer service representatives should try to be authentic according to the brand's values. In the case of Starbucks, the environment is welcoming and relaxed, so their employees should be personable and friendly to match the experience. This helps businesses highlight the real qualities that differentiate their organizations from others.

3. "What can we learn from shortcuts?" by Tom Hulme

Tom Hulme believes that the only way to build a product that people will actually use is by observing how they'll use it and in what context. The point is to design for a real need not a perceived need.  Customers use products or services in accordance to their own needs, and how they use may be different than what the business originally designed it for. 

This TED talk highlights the importance of truly listening to customers and understanding their specific needs. This concept is particularly important for customer service reps because they're the ones directly communicating with customers and hearing their feedback — positive and negative. That feedback can be used to design better products that match customer use cases.

4. "We've stopped trusting institutions and started trusting strangers" by Rachel Botsman

Rachel Botsman discusses how the consumer world has shifted. In the 20th century, customers trusted institutions, creating a very hierarchal, closed customer relationship. Nowadays, customers have more trust in each other, creating a bottom-up, transparent relationship with brands.

Botsman mentions how businesses — like Uber — have taken advantage of this newfound trust and how businesses should capitalize on this wave of consumer collaboration and stranger trust. Similarly, customer service representatives should recognize the power of trust in prospects and take advantage of customer reviews and referrals, which have the potential to track in more brand loyalty than ads.

5. "The Customer Revolution in Customer Service" by David Bequette

David Bequette's TEDx Talk is all about customer service in developing countries around the globe. He believes that poor customer service is tied to a severe lack of training and a negative mentality that frowns upon and distrusts customer service representatives — all over the world. In his talk, he highlights the importance of mutual respect and relationship-building between consumers and customer service representatives.

6. "Creating Guest ‘Evangelists' through Customer Service" by Tom Costello

As an expert in the hospitality industry, Tom Costello knows a thing or two about perfecting customer service to satisfy customers. One of the most important things a business can do is highlight, understand, and live by its core values. If all decisions are made based on the core values, the organization can ensure that they're satisfying both employees and customers.

Additionally, companies can exceed the expectations of customers by recognizing the root problem that they, themselves, don't recognize. This turns customers into brand evangelists. Customer service representatives should always be well-educated on their businesses' values. As frontline workers, they will need to communicate these values to customers in every interaction to portray a unified, customer-centric organization.

7. "Employees first, customers second" by Vineet Nayar

Vineet Nayar reminds viewers that employees choose to work for a company not just for the payment but for the vision they see in the organization.  That's why he has pioneered a management style that focuses on  his employee's success. His management style — management by trust — is considered by American Fortune Magazine to be the most modern approach in the world.

Nayar ensures that employees are motivated, passionate, happy, and ready to tackle their work with newfound positivity. He believes when employees are happier, they'll produce better work and, thus, make their customers happier, too. Customer service managers can learn from this concept to create an environment in which employees want to serve their customers.

8. "What if customers become friends?" by Steven Van Belleghem

Steven van Belleghem's TEDx Talk is rooted in the widely-accepted notion that customers are now innately untrusting of and disloyal to brands. He challenges this notion by proposing the question, "How would you treat your best friend if he or she became a client?" His secret to promoting customer loyalty is doing the right thing for customers and always listening to your heart. This method can be used by customer service representatives to promote an attitude of loyalty that surpasses discounts.

9. "Customer loyalty programmes… why bother!" by Lance Walker

Lance Walker is the CEO of Loyalty NZ, which owns New Zealand's largest loyalty programs called Fly Buys. He recognizes that the key to customer loyalty is to understand customer needs and constantly fulfill them.  While loyalty programs have their perks, like encouraging repeat purchases and accumulating data on customer spending habits, Walker admits that no rewards program can drive more loyalty than a customer's genuine love for a product and brand.

10. "Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!" by Ernesto Sirolli

Ernesto Sirolli discusses how many aid workers will hear about a problem and immediately jump into "fixing" it. While well-intentioned, these workers are missing the point, which is to consult the locals. To get workers back on track, Ernesto invented "enterprise facilitation" which is the idea of only responding to people, instead of leading the conversation. 

With this communication style, employees never share your own opinions or motivate another person. They simply listen to what the customer has to say. This style has helped Ernesto gauge local passion and harness it into a solution that both reflects what people want to see and solves their problem. This style of communication can be used by customer service representatives to better listen and understand customers' problems in their own words, rather than jumping headfirst into problem-solving.

To learn more, read about the customer service career path in this next post.



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