I've really enjoyed learning from Kathy Sierra's talk "Creating the minimum badass user". It's an hour long, but well worth your time.
Zoomed in -
This seems so applicable to many "services" these days. Millions spent on TV adverts, positive reviews, and glossy websites - yet nothing spent on customer care, and the entire shebang is held together with yarn.
Imagine if politicians had to actually deliver on what they promised, or if companies invested as much in customer service as they did advertising.
In many ways, this is about love. You have to love your customers. Advertising is merely seduction.
What would you do in order to seduce the object of your desires? Flowers, weekend trips to Paris, wearing a new fragrance, charming their parents - you know the drill! Then, the day after you get married, you suddenly switch - no time for your new partner; you're busy chasing other floozies! And if they don't have the bills paid on time, you'll drop them like a hot potato!
I don't really know how we fix this problem. Vendor Relationship Management is perhaps the best solution. If you see that other people have had poor service once they've signed up, you'd be less likely to become a customer.
Well, in theory! Think about all the problems that Apple have with their products - and all the complaints on their forums which go unanswered. Yet consumers - like lovestruck teenagers - wail "they really love me! I don't care what anyone else says! I can change them!"
Perhaps the only solution is to lower our expectations.
It's time to accept that companies just aren't that in to us! We must not be fooled by the cheap bunch of flowers they hand us on the first date - we have to anticipate the years of unrelenting misery they will surely put us through and brace ourselves for it.