Customer Service As A Competitive Advantage

Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win

It’s 10:00pm. I just got home from work, and I have a blog post due tomorrow morning. Am I about to write complete junk just to meet my publication schedule?

Let’s table that for a moment.

A funny thing happened on Monday; I posted some thoughts in our Monthly Mash regarding the publication frequency here at Customers That Stick. Little did I know that I was stepping sidelong into a hot discussion about publication schedules and their impact on content quality.

Both Tom Webster and Christopher Penn, two of the smartest people in the blogosphere, wrote pieces about publication schedules (here and here) and their negative impact on the quality of content. Geoff Livingston, whose comment here at CTS turned me onto the larger debate, wrote a thoughtful piece focused on the entire concept of content marketing. And Marcus Sheridan, in what I can only describe as a piece I wish I had written, took up the defense of publication frequency.

All four pieces contain far more depth of thought than I have space to cover here; I highly recommend reading them.

Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win | JackhammerSo what does this debate have to do with this blog post? Well, as I sit here typing ham-handedly on my iPad, exhausted, I feel the weight of this discussion viscerally.

The reality is that I’m at the end of a 16 hour day. I was at my desk at 5:20 this morning, and I didn’t wrap up until about 9:30 tonight. Both lunch and dinner were eaten at my desk. And social media, commenting, reading… forget it; it just wasn’t happening.

And I mention my schedule today for no other reason than to set the stage: the concerns some have about publication schedules forcing low quality content are real.

I’m tired, uninspired, and really don’t feel like writing much of anything.

Yet, I am writing, because I do have a content schedule and the commitment to that schedule is the only thing that keeps me producing regular content at all.

And besides, necessity is the mother of invention, and I think I’ve hit on a good idea for a post — this one.

I don’t know if this post will live up to someone’s yardstick of “quality content.” This post is not a 5,000 word tutorial on customer experience mapping or a detailed analysis of service delivery at the Apple store. This post is but a single thought, quickly conceived in prose but long formed over a lifetime of experience. That thought is as follows:

Successful people show up. They put in the work day after day, month after month, and year after year. They grind it out, more worried about purpose than perfection and more concerned with effort than exceptionalism. They think, they strategize, but eventually, they act.

And since I really don’t write about blogging, let me say that this is a lesson I bring from customer service. You see, customer service doesn’t happen on your schedule, it happens on your customers’ schedule.

You will be tired, cranky, and stressed out when the biggest customer service issue of the week hits. And guess what, you have to suck it up and deal with it. You don’t get to wait until you are well-rested and able to put in your best work.

You don’t get to do customer service when you feel like it.

Also, the organization that is consistently dedicated to service execution, warts and all, will outperform the team that just received the best customer service system in the world but is waiting until it is near-perfect before implementing it.

For the most part, the quest for near-perfection has more downsides than the imperfections themselves.

Sure, some moments are so bad they cannot be recovered from, but blog posts and customer interactions are not tests for which we get letter grades but moments in a series of interactions. When you deliver value every day, you are forgiven a stinker or two, because business and blogging at their best have a relational foundation, not a transactional one.

Let me be clear: Strategy is important. Analysis is important. Anyone who works closely with me offline will tell you that I am the opposite of the “jump in with both feet” kind of guy. Working smart is just as important as working hard.

But, if you let it, getting it right can subsume getting it done.

It is consistent action that separates great achievement from mere aspiration. Why? Because that’s the hard part; that’s the part fewer people are willing to do.

You see, if you’re a writer then write. Find a publication schedule that’s realistic for your life and goals and stick to it. If you’re in customer service (that’s a trick, everyone is!), determine the best service level that you can execute consistently with your current resources and work the program every day as best you can.

Now, please allow me to be clear on another point, there is no one way. That is fundamental. Every blog is different, every business is different, and every industry is different. In some places (academia comes to mind) striving for as-perfect-as-can-be might be a good strategy, but in business and blogging, purposeful effort beats calculated perfection every time.Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win | Starting Line

To me, perfection is the guy standing at the starting line pondering his strategy as you cross the halfway point.

Suck It Up, Do the Work, Win


By Adam Toporek. Adam Toporek is an internationally recognized customer service expert, keynote speaker, and workshop leader. He is the author of Be Your Customer's Hero: Real-World Tips & Techniques for the Service Front Lines (2015), as well as the founder of the popular Customers That Stick® blog and co-host of the Crack the Customer Code podcast.

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