If You’re Not Making Your Customers Happy, Change Your Strategy

I am a big believer in the trust bank account philosophy that Stephen Covey talks about in his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The theory is quite simple. Every time we deal with a  person or a business, we can deposit trust or withdraw trust from the trust bank account. If we become overdrawn, we effectively kill our relationship. Think of a business you’ve done business with. What do they do to make a deposit in your trust bank account? How do they make withdrawals?

In this article, we will uncover a great strategy to ENDEAR yourself to your most difficult customers.

Russ Dantu

The key says Service Expert, Author and Speaker Russ Dantu,  is that happy employees equal happy customers, equal happy you.  

He says, “Anything we do in customer service has to start with our employees. We need to have the right people in the right positions. We need to have that culture, that has the whole team working together.”

A Salesforce study found that 89% of consumers are more likely to make another purchase after a positive customer service experience. And if the company’s customer service is excellent, 78% of consumers will do business with them again after a mistake.

Undeniably, customer service is a vital cog in the wheel that can either give any business that competitive edge or lost sales opportunities as shown by the following statistics from Nextiva’s study:

  • 89% of customers feel frustrated if they have to repeat their issue to multiple agents.
  • More than 50% of Americans have scrapped a planned purchase because of poor customer service.
  • 44% of consumers say they have received the wrong answer from customer service in the past.

Learning the Hard Way

A successful pizza place owner in Banff, Alberta, learned the lesson the hard way.

Unbeknownst to him, the customers he rudely berated had been loyal customers for over 17 years, long before they had kids. On this day, they visited with their children and their grandparents.

The restaurant’s newest waitress made a mistake on their order and the manager compensated by offering 2 (out of 6) meals for free. When the group got to the cash to pay, the owner was furious. He blurted out to his customers, “You pay for your meals when you come in here. So you get nothing for free!” And dropped the ‘F’ bomb in the middle of a sentence, in front of the couple’s kids. Everyone was shocked. As a result, the infuriated family took to social media to share their disgusting experience.

Taking care of your customers and keeping them consistently satisfied is a good business strategy.  After all, it’s 5 to 25 times more expensive to invest in new customers than retain existing ones, according to Invesp.

ENDEAR: The formula for dealing with difficult customers and situations

Dantu gives us his practical ENDEAR formula to help organizations deal with difficult customers and situations.

  ‘E’ is for Empathy

90% of customers say how a company acts during a crisis demonstrates its trustworthiness, according to the Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report. Showing empathy elicits trust from our customers. 

“What it means is jumping on the other side of the counter and putting yourself in their shoes. Thinking, how does it feel when I’m dealing with a company that I’m not happy with,” says Dantu. 

  ‘N’ is for Needs

“What I always tell people is grab a pen and paper and say to them, would you mind if I take notes while you’re telling me everything that’s happened here? That usually impresses them because nobody does that,” says Dantu.

Check out my Full Interview with Russ Dantu

  “D” is for Diffusion

We need to allow them to first diffuse their anger and disappointment. Nothing can be frustrating than not getting everything off one’s chest. 

“So, let them voice it and get it all out there. And after a while, they’ll look at you waiting for an answer. And that’s when you can step in with that solution,” says Dantu.

‘E’ is for Education

“Depending on the business you’re in, sometimes you’ll have to educate the customer as to how things are done. The only thing you want to stay away from is saying, ‘That’s not our policy,’ because you’re just going to upset them,” says Dantu.

Implementing the “no face covering, no entry” policy can be challenging. The last thing you want to do is make them look bad in front of other customers by chasing them inside your premises. Having a greeter at the outset politely informing them of this protective measure for their sake will certainly be appreciated. They will comply, turn around and come back another time.

  ‘A’ is for Apology

This is one thing that an irate customer wants to hear but is sorely overlooked by businesses and should be doing. 

“An apology does not mean and admit that you are wrong. You’re apologizing to the person because they’re in this situation. I can see how that would really be painful to you. I apologize that this has happened. Let’s see what we can do to fix it. Now, if you are wrong, you definitely want to apologize.” says Dantu.

‘R’ is for Resolve

Reach a healthy resolution. It must not end on a sad note that you can’t solve their problem. Take the initiative to at least help them find another supplier who can. Your goal is to leave a good and lasting impression. People want to do business again and again with companies they can rely on. 

The above formula will hopefully endear you to your valued clients. But knowing the personality of your customers can immediately foster good connections and strike a chord. Adjust your approach and go miles in building and saving relationships.


Russ Dantu is a service expert who works with organizations and teams needing to get on the same page about the level of service they provide their customers.

Russ has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer service for over 20 years. Through his 30+ years of studying customer service practices in a variety of sectors, he has helped thousands of companies increase their bottom line, retain employees and rise above their competition! His sessions and keynotes will leave you equipped with key tools to take your customer service to the next level.

Russ is the author of At Your Service: A Guide to Delivering Exceptional Customer Service. He has spoken all over North America and his client list includes Volkswagen, Subway, Manulife, Merry Maids, Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Travel Alberta, Calgary Hotel Association and many municipalities around Alberta…to name a few.

Check out Russ/ book, At Your Service: A Guide to Delivering Exceptional Customer Service.

You can connect with Russ at www.russdantu.com

About the Author:

Marc Haine is a Service Expert and a Master of Experience. He is a sought-after speaker and trainer working with businesses that need to attract and engage their best customers. Driven by his passion for creating experiences that rock, Marc has worked with retail, casinos, hotels, associations and municipalities to help them design jaw-dropping experiences that get them noticed.
Marc knows what it takes for businesses to exceed experience expectations–The first step, each day, as you open your doors to the public, have you and your staff yell, “IT’S SHOWTIME!”
Marc is one of the world’s foremost authorities on customer journey experience touchpoints and is the author of LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION! Business Operational Excellence through the Lens of Live Theatre (Check out the new way of looking at your business HERE).
Marc is offering a free 30-minute brainstorming session with you and your team. Click Here to book a time that works for you on his online calendar.
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A few years ago I attended one of Marc’s workshops with a number of my front line employees. We found the session helpful not only with dealing with difficult customers but our people felt they also applied the techniques to their everyday lives and with fellow staff members in resolving conflicts. Marc made the group feel comfortable enough to share stories and experiences as well as tactics that had worked for them in the past. I have attended many similar events where people were never as forthcoming as we experienced here. The material was pertinent and topical and Marc was able to make it relevant to everyone in the room. I have always prided myself on being a good conflict arbitrator and still today find that I am able to utilize many of the ideas and techniques we learned in Marc’s session.
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