With an increase in projected revenues from $3 million in 2000 to more than $16 million this year, Headsets.com owes at least part of its success to the popularity of headsets — and laws requiring their use while driving. Still, CEO Mike Faith considers a “fanatic” belief in customer service to be the core of his company’s prosperity. In fact, he’s so sold on the value of customer service that he’s written a book called The Intelligence of Customers, which is due out later this year. We sat him down to get his take on the art of dealing with customers.

American Way Why is customer service so
important?
Mike Faith: Customer service people are the ones who make us money. Everyone else is overhead, including me.

American Way: How do you make customer serv­ice a priority?
Faith: We never flinch at spending money for hiring or training. We don’t think of customer service as a profit-and-loss item; we think of it as an asset. Only about 1 in 30 applicants is hired, and we spend a lot of time with them. They have three in-person interviews. They spend time on the phone with both a psychologist and a voice coach, and then spend half a day in the call center listening to others.

American Way: Is the customer always right?
Faith: I believe that the customer can be wrong. But even if we don’t agree with them, they still deserve our respect.

American Way: Any advice for others?
Faith: Spend time and choose customer service employees wisely upfront. If you treat them like a valuable asset at the front of the company, you will more than get back what you put in.
— Beth Snyder Bulik