The Customer Experience Series: Prevention is 100% of the Cure

As we learned in The Customer is Not Always Right, good customer service means never having to say you’re sorry.

In other words, if we want the customer experience to always be a positive one, then our customer service efforts cannot be focused on solving issues, but instead on preventing customer service issues before they ever even happen.

And, the good news is that preventing customer issues is actually surprisingly easy if your team (from top to bottom) will follow just five simple strategies that I call:

  1. Volunteers and Orphans
  2. Expect the Unexpected
  3. Convenience Store
  4. Real Alignment
  5. Customers for Life

We’ll cover these five lessons over the course of the next few parts in this series, starting with:

Volunteers and Orphans

The first (and most important) of the five strategies dictates how you, your managers, and your employees should treat everyone with whom them come into contact. Employing this strategy they will treat people like volunteers and orphans: Everyone who works at your company is to be treated like a volunteer, while every customer is to be treated like an orphan.

Why does it make sense to treat employees like volunteers? Because they are! You see, you can buy their backs, but they volunteer their hearts and they volunteer their minds. If you want the best work out of them; if you want them to make great decisions; if you want them to treat your customers the right way, then you need to treat them like they are volunteers.

And you want these volunteers to treat your customers like needy orphans; because if you do, you will win with every customer every time. Oh, and this cannot be a one-time event; this is your best customer-issue prevention strategy that should become your approach every single day.

Oh, And You’re Playing Santa

How do you execute this strategy? Simple; you imagine that the only goal of your business is handing out toys at Christmas to orphan children. Your employees and managers are all the volunteers and your customers are those little urchins. Oh, and you are playing Santa Claus.

Given this situation, how would you behave? Of course, everything you did as Santa would be meant to please the orphans, right?

Would there ever be any reason to scold an orphan?


Would there ever be any reason to treat an orphan badly?


Would there ever be any reason to ever teach an orphan a lesson?

Of course not.

Likewise, there is never any reason to scold the customer, to treat them badly, or to even teach them a lesson. That’s not your job.

What about scolding a volunteer? If you were playing Santa, would there ever be any reason to scold a volunteer?

Only if they were somehow rude to an orphan, right? That would be the only reason to ever scold one of your volunteers. And, it’s the same thing in your business. Everything you do should be weighed against pleasing the customers – just as the person playing Santa and his volunteers would have just one goal: pleasing the orphans.

So, how do you ensure that your customers get treated like orphans all the time? You treat your employees like volunteers. As we introduced in earlier lessons: how you treat your team directly affects how they treat their team, etc., all the way down to the customer. You can never go wrong with volunteers assisting your orphans.

Next up in the series: Expect the Unexpected.

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Why Does Good Customer Service Matter?)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at