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Eat A Bowl Of Dog Food, Improve Customer Service

Confession time: I’ve been known to zone out after a busy day by curling up in front of the television to watch something like Undercover Boss, Tabitha Takes Over or Restaurant Stakeout.

All of these programs have two things in common. First, they take a candid look at what really happens in the day-to-day operations of a business. We see it all, the good and the bad, and more often than not there’s quite a lot of “bad” to be seen.  We’ll chalk that up to the fact that these are edited to create entertaining reality TV. Hopefully U.S. businesses aren’t typically that terrible.

The second thing they have in common is even more important: Owners and managers don’t know what is really happening in “the trenches.” While most businesses may not be as inept as those featured on reality television, I suspect many of these shows aren’t all that far off base in their portrayal of how well owners and upper level managers truly understand the customer experience.

Eat A Bowl Of Dog Food, Improve Customer Service

Google’s Leftover Dog Food

In the world of computers and software there’s a process called “dogfooding.” In fact, when Google released Google Voice on Android 4.0, the behemoth accidentally left its “Dogfood settings” in the software. Simply put, “eating your own dog food” or “dogfooding” is making developers use their own products to prove and understand their quality and capabilities.

It’s a concept that should be used in all kinds of businesses to truly understand the customer experience. Let’s face it, most of us will never have the kind of hidden camera surveillance that they use in Tabitha Takes Over or Restaurant Stakeout so we need to do the next best thing: Serve ourselves a big dish of our own dog food.

Go through all the processes your customers and clients experience and if you can’t do it yourself because people will treat you differently, grab Aunt Martha and have her do it for you. Don’t miss anything. Make sure that you experience every possible touch point in your customer service pipeline. This includes, by the way, the digital side of your business, not just the “live and in-person” part of the operation.

Small Investments, Big Results

It’s amazing to me that some businesses seem to think that they can still get away with poor customer service. It took a bad morning dealing with the bank to motivate Greg Fry and remind him that he hadn’t touched bases with all of his clients in a long time. Hopefully, after you do a little dogfooding, you’ll be fairly pleased with your overall customer service. However, we both know that you’ll find areas that can be improved.

And, even if you think your customer service is “fine,” look for ways to make it “outstanding.” That small qualitative difference can make a huge impact on the success of your business and often the difference between “fine” and “outstanding” customer service can cost very little.

As the Internet and overnight delivery services have radically improved communication and transportation, the playing fields between big businesses and small businesses, new businesses and established businesses has been leveled. Almost everything that is being sold today has been turned into a commodity. One of the few ways to really distinguish your business is to deliver world-class customer service.

And that might start with your first spoonful of dog food.

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Images:  ”english bulldog puppy eating out of red dog food dish/

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. As a small business expert, Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing small business advice. She has significant experience with the topic of small business marketing, and has spent several years exploring topics like copywriting, content marketing and social media. When she’s not publishing a weekly newsletter to educate small businesses on the vast importance of building up their web presence, she likes to keep her finger on the pulse of the latest small business products, services, apps and other reviews. She also keeps tabs on the foremost events for small business owners to attend. Megan spends much of her time building partnerships and establishing new relationships on behalf of With a strong suit for managing business partnerships and developing partner relations, she often cultivates topics around the partnerships she’s established by reviewing and highlighting what makes each business unique. She prides herself on keeping up with the diverse variety of services each business specializes in to spotlight new offerings. With her extensive repertoire, Megan regularly contributes to a growing number of publications, like,, Vistaprint, Yext, Infusionsoft, among many others. She can be reached at [email protected]

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  • I love this post Megan. Of course the fact I adore dogs did drive me to read this first out of the weeks posts I’ve missed while being on holiday 🙂 I had never heard of that term before but it does make complete sense. I tend to often be asked to check out a friend’s blog or website for them or even being asked how I rated the services received by companies I know because I can be a stickler for things working correctly. So now I will say I am dogfooding for them 🙂

  • Roger Parker wrote a piece not too long ago for Content Marketing Institute titled, “Turn Your Pivot Points Into Stories For Better Content Marketing”.

    In his piece he’s giving you questions to ask that help get a solid beginning, middle, and end for stories you can tell about what your business has accomplished.

    When I looked at the questions, I thought of how they could directly be applied to helping you get high quality “negative” and “positive” reviews for your site.

    Look at these questions and you’ll see what I mean . . .

    1. What happened? Describe the events leading up to the turning point and the actions that resulted in positive (or negative) change. You don’t need a detailed narrative. A simple list of the key points is enough.

    2. What was the context of the event?

    3. What caused the event?

    4. What actions did you (or your firm) take?

    5. What skills or traits did you (or your firm) display?

    6. What was the event’s long-term significance?

    7. What lessons did you learn from the event?

    8. How can others benefit from your story?

    Do you see how prompting users with these questions can prevent them from leaving vague or blah general reviews like, “YOU SUCK!” or “YOU’RE GREAT!!!”?

    If you’re ask for reviews, I would highly, highly, highly look to avoid just leaving people with a blank page to write to. Most people are not writers and their online prose proves this. If you don’t use these questions to help get a higher quality of review find some others but stay the heck away from hoping things will work out well by just leaving a person with a blank slate.

  • James Clifton

    Very valid point. The more you can facilitate the process of leaving a review the better it is.

  • James Clifton

    Thanks Niall. We look forward to contributing to Tweak Your Biz. As you say authenticity is key when it comes to reviews and as the article points out a couple of negative reviews add value to the positive reviews.

  • Could you mention some companies that have been good at using social proof in their marketing activities?

  • Sançar

    Hi Martin, I work at GetApp and wrote the original article.

    Social proof, these days, comes in all shapes and sizes and there are some great examples of companies using it to boost their marketing efforts. A big example would be Booking, who show a small message when you’re browsing a hotel saying something like “3 other people are viewing this hotel right now”. This is a fantastic example of social proof on the web, because it’s realtime and makes us think “if that many people are looking at this hotel right now, it must be a popular choice”. It also makes us think, “I’d better hurry up and book a room before they all go!”

    At GetApp we see lots of our app providers using online reviews to generate trust and build their social proof strategy. As mentioned in the article, Insightly, do this very well as they embrace the lesser-starred reviews and, instead of sweeping them under the carpet, offer a detailed response to the reviewer.

    Would be great to hear if anyone else knows of any other good examples of companies using social proof successfully.


  • JhonMarsh321

    Dog Run Panels is an associate company of Easy Animal who are one of the UK’s leading pet websites selling a wide range of products to dog owners. – dog runs and kennels

  • JhonMarsh321

    Probably the world’s best dog beds! Tough, practical, luxury, waterproof dog beds that keep your dog warm and dry. – luxury dog beds

  • JhonMarsh321

    In addition to the dog clippers we sell an extensive range of grooming equipment from clipper blades and de-shedding tools to nail grinders – waterproof dog bed

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