Monday, May 21, 2007

Customer care and the 4 hours work week

You have heard about a clever guy who is selling his method to work 4 hours a week and still living healthy.
I heard about him yesterday at Steve Rubel's place.
At first I was amazed by how smart is this guy : the book, five minutes conferences, a blog, some advice on how to measure your life quality, how to save money with a more rational standard of living, etc.
Wow, sounds great. Let me buy the book.
First problem: the book is not yet available for Italian market. Ok, such a smart guy, I send him a mail telling how i wish to understand more and we'll find a solution. So I did and I got an answer in five minutes. The most disappointing answer I, as a customer, can receive:

Hi All,

In an effort to actually get work done, I am checking email once every 2-4 days. If you need a response soon and have my number, please call me. I actually prefer phone for quick decisions.

If this is media, speaking, or interview-related, please find
appropriate phone info under "contact" at

Cheers, and here's to life outside of the inbox!


P.S. I read all e-mail personally, but I cannot always reply, especially with involved how-to questions. Please don't be offended if I don't respond, and be sure to check out the blog, forums, and 4HWW communities that are popping up online. Thanks for
understanding, and I appreciate your e-mail!

Wait a minute:
  1. to save your time you just do not check email?
  2. to save your time, I have to phone to you?
  3. you read all email personally but do not answer because you can't?
  4. I have not to be offended, if you do not answer?
What about customer satisfaction?
You sell a product, your book, and to sell more you build up a story around it and to live with your story you tell to a customer to not send mail, better a phone call and if you should not answer just take it easy?

Is it me or there is something wrong?


Mario Vellandi said...

I like his philosophy ala "Getting Things Done" by David Allen,,

What he is doing is overextending his brand. He should just say something VERY short and simple along the lines of being busy at work. Basta!
We'd understand. Just like we do with Seth's brand.

The more you say, the more you're accountable for.

gianandrea said...

@Mario- I do not like this way of doing business. It's not smart, from my point of view. We do ask to our client to be customer centric and then we make a hero of this guy, who is doing exactly the opposite. I believe that it's just because he sells a dream.

Lewis Green said...


That's the results of working four hours a week. No time for customer service (or much else).

Mario Vellandi said...

Indeed he sells a dream. He should have picked a better book title. If what he promotes is new age productivity, he should focus on that. And better yet, walk the talk or don't promise anything he can't himself deliver. is a really good site.

gianandrea said...

@Lewis-I wish we could work less and I suppose there is some cute idea to cut the work time. But the quality of our work should not be affected.
@Mario-I'll check ZenHabits and the other web site you mentioned and let you know my feeling.
PS: one of my dog is named Zen ;-)

Valeria Maltoni said...

Mario is right, less is more. If you're busy, say so in your behavior as well. Seth may write a one-word reply... but he does reply and his word is appropriately matched to your request. He has read your message and put thought into it.

It seems to me that we're not talking about quality as much as desire to connect. His methodology suggests more push through than two-way conversation. Nothing wrong with that. Expectations need to be managed in that sense though.

Gavin Heaton said...

I am with you, G! And perhaps it is blogging that has caused the problem!

You see, the fact that a blog exists sets an expectation of dialogue or conversation. There is also an expectation of community or engagement. If we get neither of these ... if we get a nice response that is auto-generated, no matter how well intentioned, it generates an unsatisfactory experience. This is partly the difference between a blog writer and a book writer ... one speaks from on high and with authority, the other converses on the same level, with authenticity.

I know which one I prefer.

gianandrea said...

@Valeria-Expectations need to be managed! As usual you are able to get my point and write down in a perfect way!
@Gavin-If for the sake of saving time, you left conversation apart that's a issue. It make me think that this is a rather well executed commercial idea.

CK said...

Thank you, bello. This is very insightful. I understand the guy is pressed for time (being he needs to relax so much of it) but his reply does not align with his brand.

Sounds hollow and not worth the 4 hours I'd spend reading his book. Give a man enough rope...he'll hang himself.

CK said...

btw, I left a link to this post on his blog--I think your advice is very helpful...hopefully he'll thank you for it.

Being a smart marketer, I sure would (anyone who takes the time to give such great advice should be thanked ;-).

gianandrea said...

@CK, it seems that I will not read the book. The update speaks by itself. I'll join the BookClub, Bookstress.

Doug said...

It is obvious by your comments and reactions that you have not read the book - this response is exactly an extension of his 'brand'.

His book is about focusing on the 20% of effort that leads to 80% of the result - and checking email and responding on 'other peoples' timeframes is not as productive as working on the next big interview.

If you don't like it don't buy the book - but remember he is working 4 hours a week and making 5-6 figures a month, are you?

gianandrea said...

doug, thanks for your comment. what i do not like is poor customer care. i'm happy that he found a way to make money and work less than any of us (at least me) as it is clear that you are a big fan of his method (correct me if i'm wrong). but, again, this seems a great idea that work on common frustration and make people so blind to accept what they do not accept in the everyday life.