In an Equifax World, Be Elon Instead

In an Equifax World, Be Elon Instead

As we’re all aware by now, over ⅓ of Americans have had their personal data breached by the good folks at Equifax.

Since we’re about to launch a new book specifically about customer service, it’s especially interesting to see how they handled the aftermath of their massive data breach (which one security expert referred to as a dumpster fire.)

They sprung into action, launching a website that didn’t answer people’s questions and was barely functional.

A few days later, it was hinted that their attempt to upsell the customers they’d just violated with a free membership to their premium product might hinder those customers from taking any legal action against Equifax for the original breach.

Next, they set up a call center with an outsourced company who had no access to the Equifax database, and so were unable to tell people the only information they’d be interested in (whether they personally were breached, and what the extent of that damage was.)

And of course, let’s not forget that three executives sold shares for nearly $2M the day before they announced the breach, and claimed it to be a coincidence.

I’d be willing to bet Equifax and these executives are the types with many copies of Good To Great hanging around the office.

Meanwhile, this is just another perfect example of a company who hasn’t even got “Good” right.

It makes me wonder, what would Elon Musk have done?

I read about an exchange recently between Elon and one of his customers. The customer had a legitimate suggestion and not only did Elon respond, but he agreed, promised change, and did it all within 30-minutes.


What’s even better, within six days the change was announced on their official website. He actually followed through!

Just think, you too can be like Elon even without launching rockets into space, and creating world-changing technologies, just by making yourself accessible to customers.

There are a few powerful lessons the folks at Equifax (and all of us) can learn from this.

Don’t defraud your customers. I’m getting tired of the Equifax stories, the VWs and Wells Fargo scandals, and all the rest who decide on personal profit over long term loyalty and trust.

Listen to your customers. One of the favorite things my mentor Alan Weiss used to tell CEOs of “customer-centric” Fortune-500 firms he was working with was to “t ry and get yourself on the phone. See what hoops your customers need to jump through to get to you.” Could you customers get a valid suggestion to you? Are you that accessible? Would you actually respond?

Be on the lookout for valid complaints and suggestions, and act on them! This doesn’t mean that you need to sift through and respond to every criticism, but it does mean that you should be trying to find ways to identify both frequent criticisms, as well as infrequent but important problems, and commit to solving them!

There’s no doubt about it–Elon is a once in a lifetime genius, but there are many things that he does differently that really shouldn’t be different. Things like constantly improving the product and customer experience, recognizing and addressing customer issues promptly, and operating from a place of vision should be the default for all of us.

Your challenges for this week:

Do you know the most common customer complaint over the past three months? If you do, what have you done about? If you don’t know what it is, why not?!?!

What’s the last customer suggestion that you–personally agreed with–and implemented? Did it take longer than 30-minutes for the customer to reach you, or for you to respond? How long did it take?