8 foolproof customer service strategies (that only a fool would try!)

Not everybody’s idea of customer service actually falls under the category of “service”. Here are a few handy tricks to avoid.

Have you ever noticed how widely customer service varies from one store to another? You walk into some stores, and before you can even get the words “Buzz off!” out of your mouth, you’ve been trumped by a salesperson asking “May I help you?”

“No thanks.”

“May I help you?” asks another.

“No thanks.”

“May I help you?” asks a third.

When the store runs out of salespeople to lob in your direction, you finally get to see the merchandise. This is called “in your face customer service”.

8 fooleproof customer service strategies

There are other stores that take the exact opposite approach. When you can’t find the right size adapter for your brand new disconnected electronic zip-splitting illuminator (with built-in crystaline location spectrum analyzer), you seek assistance in Aisle Four. Nobody there.

Aisle Five? Still nobody.

Aisle Six? Deserted.

Aisle Seven? Nope.

Maybe Aisle Forty-seven?

This is called “run for cover customer service”.

Then there is a completely different, and highly original, approach at the equipment shop that welcomes you with a big smile and wide open arms when your lawn tractor starts sounding like dentures whirling in a blender.

“All it needs is a routine cleaning. We charge $150 for that,” the friendly salesman says. Then he leans in and lowers his voice. “But you could probably just do it yourself, you know.”

You thank him for his helpfulness. He beams back at you with pride. “Yup. I thought that one up all by myself. You see, I noticed that whenever a customer tries to fix something at home, he comes back the very next day.  We always make a whole lot more money, too. You think my boss will give me a raise for my initiative?”

I call this “do-it-yourself-extortion”.  Sorry, it doesn’t really count as customer service.

And what about the three companies we called to quote on some duct work? Each one came to our place, looked around, scribbled a few notes and promised to get back to us shortly with a quote.

So we waited. And waited. And we watched the cobweb city expand.

We called up the first company, and they promised again to get back to us with their quote. A week later we called then back, and as you might by now surmise, they once again promised to get back to us shortly with a quote.  They made the same promise consistently the next 623 times we called. I just love a reliable company.

This one is called “consistent filibuster customer service”.

So we called the second company.

  • We called them in the day.
  • We called them in the night.
  • We called them in the dark.
  • We called them in the light.
  • We called them in the morning.
  • Then we caledl at high noon.
  • We called them at dinner,
  • and by the light of the moon.

Even dangerously dreary poetry didn’t help. I just love a company that makes sure not to pester me by answering the phone.

I call this “Invisible Man customer service”.

In the end, we chose a third company. To what did it owe its winning bid? Exceptional quality? No. The best price? No. An iron-clad guarantee? No. Answering their phone? Yes.

We hired the best paperwork fillers to renovate our duct work – and we are crossing our fingers that we never have to choose a heart surgeon the same way.

I call this “present-for-the-roll-call customer service”.

Some of these companies just don’t get the concept of customer service.  Others probably don’t understand the questions to ask before hiring customer service staff.

Our local pest control company showed us yet a different approach.

“Honey, the flies are getting in through the cracks. Time to call Pest Control Guy.”

“OK, I’ll do it right after I answer the phone. Hello?

“Hi there, this is Pest Control Guy calling. When would you like your annual pest control visit?”

“How did you know…? Well, as soon as possible, I guess. Hold on, that’s the door bell.”

“Hi there, this is Pest Control Guy.”

“But, you were just on the phone.”

“You said ASAP, so here I am.”

I call this “customer service on steroids”.

Pest Control GuyIf you own your own business, have a family or do anything that brings you into contact with members of the human species, please take note. One of these customer service styles is actually helpful.

“Hi there, this is Pest Control Guy.”

OK, that’s enough. We don’t have pests in this blog…

“Hi there, this is Pest Control Guy.”

…until now.

“Hi there, this is Pest Control Guy.”

By the way, if you want to provide feedback on this post, just leave a comment below.  I’ll be pressing my hands tightly against my ears and singing the Klingon national anthem. I call that “satirical customer service.”

“Hi there, this is Pest…” SWAT!


  1. Yep. I’m not sure which I qualify as, though. I respond to calls and emails as soon as possible, then:

    * if I hear back from them, I carry through;
    * if I don’t hear back from them, I don’t follow-up;
    * if I hear back from them, respond, and they respond, I carry through;
    * If I hear back from them, respond, and they fail to respond, I don’t follow-up.

  2. Nicely crafted, David! Thankfully I’m a B2B marketer who is not facing such troubles.

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