Set Yourself Apart In The Tough Times

Winningo on the uphillSeth Godin wrote an interesting post yesterday about “winning on the uphills” that really resonated with me.

The crux of the post:

“On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.

The best time to do great customer service is when a customer is upset.”

It’s great to pat yourself on the back when things are going well, it’s when things get tough that you can set yourself apart and when you can either lose customers forever or cement their loyalty. I’ve seen it happen many times – it’s something we do on a daily basis on our clients’ behalf.

Of course, you never want your customers to be upset. However, when it happens you have an opportunity to deliver service that they will remember.

You can turn a customer from the position of ranting about your company’s problems to raving about their great service by being:

  1. Available
  2. Human
  3. Helpful

You don’t have to change something every time someone complains. You don’t have to reveal confidential information. You won’t always have an answer that makes them happy.

However, you can listen to people (Marcel Lebrun calls it “answering the social phone“). You can explain things more clearly so people understand the issues. You can fix mistakes. And you can show people who reach out to you that you care about their business.

What about your organization? Do you just bask in the moments when it comes together, or do you also make the most of the moments when it doesn’t?

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

20 Responses toSet Yourself Apart In The Tough Times

  • I just bask in the moments 🙂

    No, all kidding aside I think you and Seth have hit the nail on the head. It’s like anything in life – you don’t necessarily learn anything or challenge yourself when you’re coasting downhill. It’s the challenges and uphill rides that really test who you are and how you face adversity. It’s the same in business – it’s when a customer/user is upset or unhappy with something that shows what you’re made of. Do you respond quickly? Are you helpful (and you’re right – this doesn’t always mean giving them an answer that makes them happy)? And do you fix mistakes within a reasonable amount of time? These are the things people care about, and the things that will turn a disgruntled customer into a loyal user who will walk away thinking they had a great experience.

  • Dave,

    Another brilliant post, thanks for sharing! It’s called “customer service” not “customer servitude” and if we can keep our focus on helping, enhancing, curing, and solving we are ahead of the curve.

    The timing of your post is brilliant because I am dealing with some excellent customer service right now – as a customer! It has been such a great experience, I had to write about it today.

    There, it’s that simple. You crave word-of-mouth for your business? The do good stuff, follow up promptly, deliver what you promise.


  • I’m with Kneale, Dave – the way we act every day will have a big say in how we react. If we can keep the positives even when everything is going belly up, we’ll be all the better for it.

  • I couldn’t agree more with this post. Being available for clients, especially when there is a problem goes quite a long way. I think being open to customer feedback and showing those consumers that you change some of your practices due to their feedback is a great way to earn their respect and their future business.

  • Malus Malum
    ago11 years

    Doctors call this “The 3 A’s” Availability, Affability, and Ability. They are in descending order of importance.

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