Management September 20, 2013 31 Reads share

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.

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/Shutterstock.com

Megan Totka

Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. 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 ChamberofCommerce.com. 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 Business.com, Disability.gov, Vistaprint, Yext, Infusionsoft, among many others. She can be reached at megan@chamberofcommerce.com.

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