5 Complacency Killers

You don’t need another damn blog post about…

…focusing on the little things.

…being remarkable.

…making your customers say “wow!”

Oh sure, I got inspired to write this post because of a “little thing that was a big deal” kinda thing at my local Starbucks. And true enough, it was the kind of little thing that shouldn’t be a big thing, but because OUTSTANDING customer service is so rare, it became a big thing…and a blog post.

Thinking on this topic, I realized just how complacent most employees in joints like a coffee shop can get. Just people, doing their job, watching the clock. They aren’t responsible for the marketing, you see, so they don’t really care.

That’s not to say they aren’t nice people, who I am sure, more often than not, put in a good, hard day’s work. But they are complacent. They are prematurely satisfied. Just because.

And this is what leads to mediocrity. This is what separates most small businesses from the truly great, remarkable, “talked about by everyone” kind of enterprises…

So, I put together a short list of 5 things every business should do, every day, to fight off and kill complacency dead, dead, dead:

1. Ask at least one customer, each day, what you can do to make the customer experience better.

2. Thank a customer in a public way, each day. Do this on Twitter, your Facebook fan page, your blog…just do it somewhere public.

3. Over the course of any given day, you perform a multitude of administrative tasks. As you are doing them, examine them closely, and determine if there are ways to do them better, do them more efficiently, and do them faster, to save time…time that now can be focused on improving the customer experience.

4. Walk around your place of business. Is it presentable and clean? It is one thing to be unorganized to the point of charming. It is quite another to be dirty. New places are clean and shiny. Remarkable places STAY clean and shiny. Complacent places get dirty and run down…

5. Empower employees to do surprising things for customers. This, of course, makes the customer’s day. This also, of course, makes the employee’s day…

5.5. Don’t know any innovative ways to empower your employees? Let them come up with ideas. And reward them for being creative. And if they do something on the spot to wow a customer and haven’t necessarily cleared it with you beforehand? Don’t punish them. You will kill their spirit.

Just a few ideas. To be executed daily. What do you think? What did I miss?

[image by @gapingvoid]

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  • http://www.stretchingyourcash.com Lisa Sims


    Excellent post! Great minds think alike because I did a show two weeks ago on Blogtalkradio about four low-cost ways to improve customer service. Without good customer service, we may attract the first-time customers but can forget about them becoming repeat customers and referral engines. What we can count on is that with the emergence of social media, they will voice their displeasure with our company’s customer service that will spread faster and to more people comparable to the speed of light.

    Lisa Sims
    Author, Stretching A Dollar To Save And Make Thousands

  • http://www.actasifblog.com Joe Lavelle

    Todd – I love your 5.5 ideas! I think that we all need to be nudged to remember that these little things go a long way! One other idea is to have a yearly celebration for your customers (it can be done virtually to save costs). Nominate the most innovative, the best social networker, the most “green”, etc and give them a prize (even if its the free publicity of winning announced on your blog).

    Thanks once again for the great inspiration!

  • Todd

    Joe – thanks for the idea. You can never do enough to recognize and acknowledge your customers. And even if it is just online, most people love to be honored this way.

    Thanks, as always, for stopping by!

  • Todd

    Lisa – yeah, amazing. I sometimes think most entrepreneurs think building and focusing on providing the ultimate customer experience has to be a complicated solution AND cost of lot of money.

    It doesn’t. You just have to care… Thanks for stopping by!

  • http://ypsgroup.com/blog Todd Youngblood


    You touched on a great #6 early in your post when you said, “They aren’t responsible for the marketing…” Aghhhhh! They ARE responsible for the marketing. Everybody is. The boss needs to make sure the entire team is aware of the ultimate source of the paycheck. If the coffee shop is ugly and the servers are surly, even if the coffee is excellent, I’m buying my cup somewhere else.


  • Todd

    Well, Todd, you are correct. I have always told my clients that EVERYONE is responsible for the marketing – from the CEO down to the janitorial crew.

    I should have made that point more clearly in the post, but yes, you are correct.

    P.S. That said, really good coffee is rarer than good customer service, methinks…

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