Make Service Your Nature

Canoes at the LakeThe economic recovery is on its way according to the animals around my house. And, they seem to be trying to let me know. I recall how my childhood dog got under the back porch steps if there was a storm coming. And, if she paced around a lot and whimpered, you could count on rain. She was never wrong. Nature seems to know the future.

Two years ago I caught a quick glimpse of a red fox in the woods near my place. Last year it crossed the road in front of my car. But, this week? The fox sat right near the road and watched me drive by. I was impressed by its courage and wondered it was giving me a sign.

Last week someone ran over a snake crossing the highway. When I passed by there were four crows standing near the snake sensing his inevitable demise. But, the snake was coiling and striking at the crows as if to say, “I’m not giving up.” I was impressed with its tenacity. A sign?

A barn swallow built its nest on top of a column at the corner of my house. It was well-protected from everything except the down spout of the gutter. One big rain and the little ones would be floating away. But, the swallow seem unconcerned. The baby birds hatched and completed flight school before the next big rain. What optimism!

Three signs do not a prophesy make. But, my dog was never wrong. Nature not only is a fortune-teller but a mentor as well, outlining the recipe for customer service in worrisome times.

Give your customers your best confidence. Spend extra time learning more than you need to know to serve your customers at the level of excellence. Famous speakers will tell you that the secret to concrete confidence on the stage is solid preparation. It is the same with great customer service. Plan for hiccups so when they occur (as they inevitably will), you will immediately know what to do and how to do it. When customers witness your confidence, it becomes infectious — they gain solace and calm even in a context of anxiety.

Show customers your most impressive tenacity. You grew up hearing the line, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The message is not about some macho brute strength, it is about a stick-to-it-tive-ness. The tortoise won the race not because he was the quickest, but because it never gave up. The Road Runner always leaves Wile E. Coyote in the dust, not because the Road Runner has greater speed, but because he is more agile, more nimble, and not threatened by the myopic, obsessed coyote. Customers will hang in there during adversary times if they know you are there to adaptively go the distance with them.

Deliver to customers your warmest optimism. Optimists are not naive Pollyanna’s who blindly ignore reality in exchange for some fantasyland view of the world. Optimists instead use their positive hopefulness to call up a bright spirit of courage. They assume the best and are rarely disappointed. Their sense of cheerfulness releases endorphins which arm them with an edge important in staving off those spirit leeches bent on robbing all around them of confidence and faith. Customers are attracted to the light of optimism and will hook their hopes on service providers with a vision of possibility and a plan for distinction.

I live on a large lake. And, I just saw a great big bass jump straight up out of the water. A sign? Not likely. Not all of nature’s actions are prophesies. I think this one might be a cue for me to get my fishing pole and get back to nature! Make service your nature and give your customers hopeful signs of a brighter future.

Chip R. Bell is a customer loyalty consultant and the author (with John R. Patterson) of the best-selling book Take Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers. He can be reached at

photo credit: michaelnpatterson