In light of last month being the season for races, I couldn’t help but indulge my inner runner and write a post about running. When you train for a long race like a marathon, you find a lot of parallels in the experience, and I can’t help but see how it compares to customer service.

A marathon is something that takes over your life and weaves its way into every corner of your mind and being. Running is just a piece of the puzzle; when you’re training, you eat a certain way, get more sleep, wear different shoes (bye-bye stilettos!) and plan your schedule well in advance. Customer service is similar in that it’s more than just troubleshooting—it’s embedding a certain way of thinking into the way you do business daily.

  • Train: You’d never wake up one Sunday and decide to run a marathon that day, right? Great customer service doesn’t just happen. Teams, from top to bottom, must be properly trained to implement bits and pieces of great service that all add up to the customer experience—from the first email to a customer to the last transaction, it needs to shine through that you and your company care about your customers and will go to great lengths to show it.
  • Don’t get injured: One wrong twist of an ankle, and you can be on the curb and out of the race. Same goes for customers—bad news spreads like wildfire, and your company’s reputation can be on the line if your team isn’t handling every customer’s feedback with kid gloves. Make sure your customers know you care, and don’t just say it—prove it. Go the extra mile, follow up to ensure they’re satisfied and send them a nice note “just because.”
  • Pace yourself: It’s important to clip along at a good pace but store some energy to get you through the long haul. Don’t use all your resources up serving one or two customers—be sure everyone gets attention and is served appropriately. And the job is never quite done. Great customer service happens every day of the year, no matter what.
  • Evaluate: After every race, it’s important to take a look back and evaluate what you did well and what needs to improve for next time. No one is perfect, and although slip-ups and the occasional unhappy customer happen, it’s always a great learning experience. Share those best practices and teaching moments with your team, and you’ll never make the same mistake twice.

Customer service is a fine art, as is being able to run long distance. However, anyone can do it with a positive mindset, dedication and by never giving up.

When have you received great customer service, and what made it so memorable?