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How to Lose Customers and Alienate Clients
Last Updated May 29th, 2014

Jason Fried, of Basecamp fame, made an interesting observation: “Customers don’t just buy a product – they switch from something else. And customers don’t just leave a product — they switch to something else.”

And he’s right.

When you lose a customer, that customer often doesn’t stop buying. They instead start buying something else.

Here’s the thing though:

While people think customers switch to other companies because other companies are better, cheaper, or [insert any benefit], you’ll find that’s often not the case.

Customers switch because the first company let them down. Customer switch because switching is personal. Customers switch because of how you make them FEEL. Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And that’s why I’m going to share an interesting experience I had with this one coffee shop / bookstore. You’ll see how I willingly paid a premium for both my coffee and books for years…

…until they let me down and forced me to find another coffee shop. You’ll see how they lost themselves a customer and alienated a super fan.

How to Win Customers For Life

The video isn’t all negative. After I show you how to lose customers and alienate clients, I’ll show you how to win customers for life.

(Customers for life are the 20% of people who make up 80% of your revenue).

Watch the full video to learn more.

How To Lose Customers And Alienate Clients

I used to get my morning coffee every day from the same large bookstore chain and coffee shop. I’d also buy all of my books from the same place.

I was a loyal customer and wanted to support the store I frequented.

In fact, between expensive cappuccinos and how much I read, I was spending more than $1,000 a month at this place. And I was HAPPY about it.

Until one day it all went to the gutter…

All because this one cafe manager lost sight of the one thing that allows companies to thrive.

No matter how bad the economy is. No matter how much competition they have. No matter what.

I’m Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers. And in this video, I explain what this company did to lose me as a customer, and how you can avoid the same mistake.

I’ll also share 2 more stories of companies that are doing it right, and what you can do to emulate them to make your business thrive.

Okay, so here’s the full story:

Like I said, I used to get my morning coffee from the same place everyday. And a couple times a month, I’d sit in their cafe and work.

The cafe had a rule that stated no one could occupy a cafe table for more than 90 minutes.

This was a rule they had to institute because some people would come in, get a free glass of water or one drink, and they’d sit there for 10 hours.

But that wasn’t me.

When I’d sit there, I’d get a cappuccino. 45 minutes later a bottle of water. 45 minutes later some food. 45 minutes later a book. 45 minute later another bottle of water. 45 minutes later another cappuccino. And a book. And a magazine.

The bottom line is: The days where I’d sit there for hours, I’d spend A LOT of money.

But one day, the cafe manager came to me and said, “Derek, you know our rules say you can only sit here for 90 minutes.”

Color me shocked.

I looked around and the place was empty. There was no one fighting for seats. And as a matter of fact, I had JUST ordered some more food to eat.

I looked up and said, “Really? I know why you have this rule, and I support it. But don’t you think this rule shouldn’t apply to people who regularly buy stuff throughout the day like I do?”

She said, “No.”

No problem.

I packed up my stuff, left the bookstore, and I knew I’d never go back.

When I called the store manager later that day, he agreed with me and apologized. He even offered me a complimentary coffee the next time I came in. But it was too late. I was never going back.

They lost me as a loyal customer because they lost sight of the ONE thing that allows companies to thrive today.

What’s that one thing?

It’s simple:

You’re not in the business of getting more customers. You’re in the business of getting one more customer for life.

And then another one. And another one.

What is a customer for life?

It’s someone who supports you and your business, will frequently buy from you, and will consistently refer more people to your business.

These are the people who, when totaled, will make up 80% of your revenue.

In fact, your customers for life are the ones who allow you to be successful today, tomorrow, and for the rest of time.

And it’s your job as a business owner to keep your customers for life HAPPY. Because of THEM, you can pay the bills. Because of THEM, you’ll go from scraping by to being flush with wealth.

And guess what? The companies who know this – the companies who LIVE this – are the companies who are killing it today.

The question is:

How can YOU get customers for life?

Should you allow good customers to break the rules? Should you spend a considerable amount of money appeasing these divas?


It’s actually more simple than that.

And to illuminate it for you, I want to share two more stories of companies doing it right.

Here’s the first:

I sometimes work out of a private, membership-only coworking space called Neuehouse. It’s a great place to work because it’s got great coffee, food, and of course, internet.

I was working there one day and ordered the daily special: a shrimp salad. A few minutes after taking my order, Amelia, the food and beverage manager, came over to my table and apologized profusely.

I’m so sorry. We’re out of that. But here’s what I can do. You can order anything else on the menu and we’ll give it to you for free today.

WHAT? They ran out of what I ordered and to make up for it, they wanted to give me something for FREE?

That never happens. Usually when a restaurant runs out of something, they apologize by saying, “Sorry, we’re out of that. It was so good it sold out quickly.”

And I’d always think, “Thanks buddy. Thanks for telling me how good something is that you don’t have anymore.”

But Neuehouse didn’t do that. They offered me something else for free. A nice, unwarranted, gesture.

And that’s when I got to thinking about Neuehouse as a whole, as a business, as a coworking space.

Everyone who works there loves working there. They love being part of the community.

And their members, people like me, also love being part of the community.


I believe it’s because they embrace this concept of nurturing customers for life. Their actions with me proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

And you know what?

That day, when Amelia came to me with that nice gesture, she turned me from a customer into a customer for life.

Someone who will remain a member of this private, membership-only coworking space for years to come.

The question is:

How can you do the same thing for your business? How can you earn customers for life without giving away the farm?

Keep watching and you’ll soon see it’s much easier than you think.

And to better explain it, I’ve got one last story for you.

Back when I was in the middle of a launch of a brand new online training, someone emailed me and said:

“Derek, I’m currently enrolled in another training. Do you think I should enroll in this right now or should I hold off?”

To which, I responded:

“No. I think you should complete the other training. Going through two trainings at once can be overwhelming.”

I essentially RUINED the sale for myself. I could have said, “Yes, go for it!”

And given him a list of reasons for why he should enroll now instead of wait. And I know he would have signed up – 100%.

But I knew it wouldn’t have been in his best interest. Going through too many courses at once is information overload.

So, I told him no. And I lost a sale.

Now, take a guess what he said after I told him no. He said:

“No BS answer. You have a customer for life.”

And you know what?

I believe him.

He will be a customer for life. And he will end up buying several things from me over the next 10 years.

And those future sales will be worth more to me, my community, and my business than that one sale I said no to.

Now, if you’re still here, this is probably getting more clear for you. You might already understand how you, as a business owner or entrepreneur, can start to win customers for life.

But just in case it’s not clear yet, let me share this quote from Maya Angelou:

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

And that’s the truth. What the bookstore failed to do, and what Neuehouse and Social Triggers succeeded in doing, was to make the customer feel like the company truly has his best interest at heart.

It’s not about the time limit at the bookstore cafe. It’s not about the free meal at Neuehouse. It’s not about me saying no to a sale.

It’s ALL about how you make your customers feel when you interact with them.

And you don’t have to give away the farm.

But you do have to show your customers that you truly have their best interests at heart.

And when you do that, you’ll seem them turn from customers into customers for life.

You might kind of know all this already. It’s not rocket science, after all. In theory, it’s so simple, but in practice, many companies fail to implement.

And the cafe manager at the bookstore certainly did fail to implement it. She could have said:

“Derek, I know you’re one of our most loyal customers, but we’ve got this new rule here. And if I don’t enforce it, I could get in trouble. Would it be an inconvenience to…”

And I would have understood. In fact, I would have wanted to help her out. I saw her everyday of the week for years. It’s the least I could have done.

Or, in Neuehouse’s case, when Amelia offered me a free meal. It wasn’t about the meal. Or the fact that it was free.

It was that she truly understood how frustrating it is for a customer who can’t get what he wants.

And to help me go from frustrated to happy, she offered something free as a way to change the tide.

But here’s the thing:

She didn’t even have to give me something for free. She could have easily just of apologized and said, “I hate it when that happens. I’m so sorry about it. Know that going forward, we’re going to work hard to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

And that would have worked.

Because I would have known that they were sorry and that they were working on getting better.

And how about that guy who emailed me?

Again, I could have sold him. And I would have been successful.

But what would have happened if he bought?

He would have been overwhelmed with too much information. I would have money in my pocket, but he would have felt horrible.

And that would have left a sour taste in his mouth about my program and the other program he was doing.

Would he have ever bought something from me again?

Probably not.

So, when I told him I didn’t want him to buy it because of information overload, I showed him it wasn’t about me and money. It was about him, his hopes, his dreams, and HIS goals.

And that made him feel amazing.

And I won a customer for life.

So, what’s the BIG tip for you? How can you turn customers into customers for life?

You need to truthfully put your customers at the center of your world. You need to do it FOR THEM.

And if you’re genuine about it, they’ll notice. ANd that’s how you’ll tip them from customer to customer to life.

But I do want you to notice one thing:

You can just as easily turn a customer for life into someone who never frequents your business again.

All it takes is one single mistake.

So, how do you win customers for life?

Put your customer best interest at heart and keep it there.

Now, I have a quick question for you:

Can you remember a time when a company truly had your best interest at heart? What did they do? How did it make you feel?

Leave a comment below.

We’re bombarded with everything that’s wrong in the world,

But today I want to hear about the good guys.

So, leave a comment below and reward great behavior.

Also, if you’re new here, I suggest you subscribe to Social Triggers.

I release a free helpful video about business, marketing, and persuasion each week. And you can gain access to exclusive content, like live events, online training courses, and THE GOOD STUFF.

Want more GREAT free videos? Here’s two you might like:

The Perfect TestimonialThe Perfect Testimonial (use this to boost your sales conversions today)

The Perfect TestimonialHow to Persuade People to Pay You More For Your Stuff

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114 comments Leave a comment

You are so right Derek! I really don’t understand why businesses think they’re always losing money even when they have a few good loyal customers. I’m an avid fan of books and I always loved 2nd hand books especially from my favorite “unknown” authors. I tend to find more of their works in the 2nd hand and old stock section. Because I don’t really like wasting my money on 1 expensive item unless they’re really cheap and I can buy in bulk. Yes, I bulk buy books and collect them. A few years ago there was this awesome 2nd hand bookstore that I really liked but as soon as they clicked and started serving higher end books and switched location after location until they were far from where I lived. There’s more locals in the main city than in the other provinces where a lot of vacationing tourist usually stay. I stopped buying from them even after trying their online shop. It wasn’t really worth the effort to support them.

But then fast forward today there’s a great new little 2nd hand bookstore I always go to instead of transferring to a higher end location. They decided to do the practical and used small spaces to branch out to only within the city limits and other cities that were filled with students and people working. That worked wonders for me. And I lived nearby one lol.


I am planning to become an Authority member on copyblogger.com today. It is very unusual for me to subscribe to something, but I am doing it because copyblogger has provided me with a lot of free valuable information. They made me feel comfortable by giving me what I need at the right time.


Outstanding video Derek! I wish more businesses understood and implemented this concept of TRULY putting the customer at the center of their world.

One company that recently did a fantastic job of this was Bed Bath & Beyond. Here’s how it went down…

1. The line to checkout was a little longer than usual, and when I got to the front a manager came up to me and personally apologized for the long wait.

2. The cashier asked if I found everything I was looking for. I said “Actually, no, I couldn’t find xyz product.” She immediately said “oh, I know exactly where that is, would you like me to get one for you?” I said “why not make it 2?”

3. Right before paying I presented a few printed coupons with dates that were clearly expired. I asked “these are probably expired, but can I still use them?” She said “sure, we don’t look at expiration dates anyway.”

4. On my way out, even the security guard smiled at me and said “have a great night man.”

Now THAT is how you win customers for life! 🙂

Moises Mata

Interestingly, last week, our home improvement company installed a wrong floor in my house, due to a codification mistake from their side.
I was traveling and when I came back and called the company, they really cared, replaced all the floor at no cost and covered all related expenses.
Talk about customer care!


I appreciate that you told that potential customer of yours the truth. I was really beginning to think it was near impossible to find a good coach with integrity until I heard you say that.I recently ended a relationship with a book coach that had just really started because I noticed l her services had lessened in quality as we went on. I think she was so eager to get those coaching fees that she told me “yes now would be a great time for you to start coaching” (even though I hadn’t really begun my book)- instead of something like “maybe we should wait until you have progressed a little further with the first three chapters and then we’ll have more material to work with.” There’s almost nothing worse than a coach putting her best foot forward in the first couple of sessions and then doing very mediocre work as you go on because it makes the client feel used – like, you are easy money and I don’t have to continue this relationship as I began it. I really should have been more judicious and insisted on a “what to expect description”

claire stone

This is sooo true. There is a really great shop near my house, which sells the kind of food that you can’t just buy anywhere, and even though the stuff it sells is GREAT, a family member won’t go in there because the owners are grumpy, sourfaced and super unhelpful. We once walked past the shop, and noticed that they were giving away for FREE some almost out of date stock, and that family member wouldn’t even take a look because of the horrible way they treat their customers. It’s a big lesson in the fact that what you sell isn’t nearly as important as how you treat people.

Simon Cave

That was an excellent video Derek, I loved it! It makes me think about what Jay Abraham said about falling in love with your clients and helping them first.

Btw if you go on his official website and subscribe as I did, you will get tons of content for free (even the book he wrote Getting Everything You Can out of Everything You’ve Got).

Keep it up Derek!

James Cook

Red Bull and cappuccinos explain a lot.

It’s rare that I feel a company or service has my best interest at heart. I’d say the last time was Big Al’s Napa Autocare in Taunton, MA.

When I was a young driver, my first car was a rust bucket with a solid engine (the reason I bought it.) One day, the muffler sounded really loud – like what kids today actually pay to sound like.

My brother-in-law took a look and said it was just the muffler and everything else was solid, “Don’t let anybody tell you the exhaust system’s bad because it’s rusty,” he told me.

I heard about Al, so I brought it to him. After about a 30 minute wait, he said, “Mr. Cook, please come into the shop. I need to show you something.”

Oh no, here it comes, I thought.

He then pointed out the hole in the muffler and then started going on about how everything else looked rusty, the pipe and bracket. I winced. Then he said, “They all look bad, but they’re solid. All you need is the muffler.” Wow!

Second attempt – my brakes were squeaky and I was going away so I asked my girlfriend to do me a favor and drop it off at his shop “for a brake job” I told her.

He looked at the brakes then went to the waiting room and said, “Why are you here? The brakes are fine. They just needed adjustment.” For which he charged nothing. Double wow!

That kind of service and honesty is rare in any business, but especially in the automotive business.

Siraj Wahid

Hey Derek,

I’m new to your blog, i found your blog while searching for article and after reading that article i just moved to your blog’s home page. This article attracted me. I just watched the video, it’s outstanding. The way you’ve mentioned to get loyal customers is awesome.

Let’s talk about that email guy you denied for buying your course. If i would have been there sitting at your place then i would have simply said yes for the sake of increasing my revenue but it would have been 1 time profit and but you targeted profit for life by denying him.

Hats off to you man!

-Siraj Wahid

W. Lee Warren, MD

“How you made them feel.”

This is a good point.

I’ve been following several bloggers in your space for a while, and I’ve seen how you (Derek) and Chris Brogan differentiate yourselves from your peers.

Recently I fell for two big-name bloggers who sent out something like, “Tell me about yourself, or share some of your stuff so I can know what my readers are about.” So, I took my (valuable) neurosurgeon’s time and wrote them, as they requested. Within seconds, I received their autoresponders saying, “I get so much email I won’t be able to personally reply to this,” or something like that.

It made me feel duped, tricked into submitting information the blogger would never bother to read or respond to.

On the other hand, Derek and Chris, when you write them, (eventually) write you back personally, even if it’s just to say, “Thanks for that.”

No one expects (at least no reasonable person) a busy blogger to write them a long reply or personally engage with their audience. But, if you send something to your readers and ASK them to write you, it’s bad customer service to then let your autoresponder remind them you’re too busy for them.

I just wrote this as an example of why customers (in this case, readers) might switch- if you make them feel bad or that you’ve abused their trust.

Good job Derek, for being who you say you are, and doing what you say you’ll do.

W. Lee Warren, MD


What an idiot! Hope they fired or disciplined that short sighted supervisor who tried to enforce a petty rule.
Too many people out there like that who never see the bigger picture.

John Keenan

We had a mortgage broker come to our house for closing our refinance, and he painstakingly went over all of our expenses-explaining EVERYTHING. He was amazing. If anyone’s ever closed on a home or refinanced in the NY Metropolitan area, you know that these guys can speak a different language, and not be concerned at all if you understand the fees/charges. Not this guy.
We are certainly customers for life of Jim Gaffney of Wells Fargo. I even went and made a video for him that I put up on YouTube! Now, if I could get someone to do that for me…that’s a customer for life.


Wow, that’s a short-sighted cafe manager! I’d not only love you as a customer, but you’d be getting a free Friday coffee, LOL. 🙂


I have also followed one of my nail technicians from one job to another job because of the way SHE treated me. The new place was good and when she left there, I still stayed because of the special way they treated me. But they’ve just decided to change their conditions so that the technicians are only allowed to talk business to the clients (no friendly chat – it’s all about the sales). The reason I like my nail technician is because I get to have some ‘down time’ from my children. I like to talk to another adult without having the feeling that I am having sales shoved down my throat. My current nail technician didn’t like having to do that to her clients so left too. I followed her. Because I follow the treatment I want.


This is so true! I once thought I’d loose a customer as I told her that I didn’t do what she was asking me for (even though I could – it was against my code of conduct). I was sure that I would have lost her, but that honesty proved to go a long way and now she is a regular client and has even bought me gifts that I greatly appreciate!


One of the best company CEOs I ever encountered as a customer and client, was a leader who was able to shape an entire company culture in such a way that everyone in the company became client/customer focused. What had been a record of abysmal service, became a reputation for 5 star treatment. He instinctively knew how to turn a company with a shaky reputation into a love mark brand for its existing customers, which is no small feat. In light of providing positive examples of great leadership- I’d love to honor Jim Collins (http://lifenotes-justuff.blogspot.com) for his efforts at Pictage.com. I never thought it was possible to miss a CEO of a company before, but I truly miss the personal connection and service he modeled for everyone in the company.

AJ & Serenity Services

Hey Derek thanks for another awesome video!

I have a mobile mechanic that I have used for several occasions. One time my radiator went out. He offered to come pick me up, take me to the ATM (he operated on a cash only basis), take me to the auto parts store, negotiated on my behalf to make sure I was getting the absolute best deal on a new radiator, and then brought me back home where he replaced my radiator in the driveway. I do not know of that many mechanics that go above and beyond for their customers like this.

For several other past jobs, he would even challenge me to call around and see if I could find a better price for auto repair. Every single time, he has offered better prices AND better service than just about every other repair shop (of course, a small part of this has to do with the fact that he does not own a repair shop and thus doesn’t have the overhead costs to pay, etc.).

This mobile mechanic gets an A+ in both auto repair expertise and customer service. Because of his willingness to go above and beyond, I am happy to refer other people to him. Whenever I need something done on my vehicle, he is the very first person I call.

My partner and I try to go above and beyond in a similar fashion for the customers of our online business.

Melissa Breau (@MelissaBreau)

Hmm… I’ve recently become a regular at a coffee shop here in Raleigh because the staff noticed I’d been there several times over the course of a few days and asked my name.

That’s all it took. Someone genuinely interested in getting to know their regular customers.

Now I’m in there a couple of times a week and often choose them for meetings (bringing other people there as well… including some who may not have been there before, since they’ve only been open a few months).

Sometimes it doesn’t take much 🙂

Sara Young

Mechanic. Brought my car in, they fixed it, but missed something. When I brought it back, they fixed the other thing FREE OF CHARGE because they had missed it the first time. The guy said he knew it was an inconvenience for me to bring it back and not have a car again, so he would offset the inconvenience with free parts and labor. It would have cost me three hundred dollars to get that thing fixed…so, yeah. I tell everyone about that garage.


This video really hit the mark.
I have also tried getting treated badly at a store, and afterwards i actually tend to AVOID the shop totally, because of the way they made me feel.
For me, the specific feeling that really makes me “go away forever” is if the shop/company somehow makes me “feel wrong”, that they somehow makes me feel that I “did something wrong” according to their rules. And I think your example with the coffee-shop is a perfect example of exactly that. And it is true, even after an apology, the bad feeling still hangs on, making you avoid the place.

Just 1 mistake of the “feeling” category, and you permanently loose a customer, it is funny to think about. I will definately keep it in mind.

But it is nice, that the opposite is also true, that you can get SOOOOOO far with treating other people nicely…
I am lucky enough to naturally have a friendly mannerism towards other people, and what I have noticed in my work, is that even if I do some fuck ups, I usually manage to keep the customer happy, because I take the time to really listen to them, and I always try to avoid “making them wrong”, and they feel listened to and taken seriously, and they feel that I am interested in them. I think I will take your advice from this video, and see how I can expand on this.


One word: APPLE

2 awesome experiences and no one can ever say anything to convince me they aren’t the greatest!

1) I had a hard drive failure on my iMac. It wasn’t completely gone yet, but it took 3 Sr Techs over the phone to help me with initial troubleshooting. The 4th Sr Tech ended up staying the rest of the course with me as we went through the process of salvaging everything possible to an external drive. In the end he managed to save everything before we replaced the drive, and for $0 cost (new hard drive, endless, support and all), even though my warrantee was looonnggg expired.

2) I went to Africa and my internet roaming charges were astronomical, so Verizon cut my internet off. Understandable, but when I got back and paid my bill, they never turned it back on. 3 phone calls and 2 store visits later, Verizon still insisted my account was set up correctly again for internet and it must be my iPhone. I went to the Apple store and they helped me replace the phone, reinstall everything and check internet connection. I hope you know what’s coming here….no internet connection. The Apple tech helping me called Verizon himself, told them the situation and explained exactly what to do. Within 2 minutes my internet was back. It took the Apple Genius (that’s his actual title) to explain to Verizon how to fix their own problem. So instead of sending me back to Verizon for another grueling experience, he took care of it for me right there, even though the store was PACKED. And, he let me keep the brand new phone, even though there was nothing (it turned out) wrong with the original phone.

And this is why I will only ever buy Apple. I love their products, but you can’t buy customer service like that.


    Amen! I had similar experience with Apple. Both my hard drive and iPhone. Both out of warranty. And they fixed the problems. No charge. And gave me the new Seagate hard drive they used to back up my computer. Yes, I will always be an Apple fan and user.


Interesting perspective on alienating customers.

Thanks for the video.

Ryan Percy

This was awesome article which explains clear structure of alienate clients! Thanks for providing such an awesome stuff 🙂

Dhaval Gajera

I used to order books from an online shop and they used to send a pen and a bookmark along with that. And I was too happy about that. I didn’t buy books from any other shops even though they had more cheaper option. But slowly, they stopped sending pen and bookmark. The result, I stopped buying books from that shop and since then I have bought around 20 books but from other stores.

Aviva Goldfarb

Hey, Derek, I always enjoy your no BS stuff! Just this week I had a great customer experience with Amazon. We notified them that my daughter didn’t receive one item in her order and they sent out a replacement immediately with 2 day delivery. Sure made me feel like trusting them again with an order!

Marleen Renders

I had ordered over $600 worth of bulk books that had to be shipped from USA to Netherlands. After they calculated the shipping they sent me an e-mail telling me the price, (which I was happy to pay), but they then offered to take $100 off the shipping for me because of the high shipping costs!

How amazing is that?

P.S. What a wonderful video. Loved it.


I have a few instances:
1) My doctor in a little town in Western NY, who always, always made time for me and my children, no matter what.
2) An Italian deli owner in that same town who STILL recognizes me even though I just stopped in last weekend for the first time in over 3 years.
3) Volkswagen. My boyfriend has owned over a dozen VWs over the years, but I had just purchased my first (used) and there was a service issue that the time for fixing had run out on – (the car had sat for some time so the problem didn’t occur until after I’d purchased it). My boyfriend called VW headquarters and they pulled up his info, found out how many VWs he’s owned, and immediately worked things out so my car got fixed. Period. Now they have two customers for life. And dang, but VW makes a great car. 🙂


Two instances from same company – We had a PowerBook G4 (out of warranty) that had suddenly stopped working. Brought it in to have it repaired. It was going to cost $323.27 to get it back in working order. Two weeks later, I received a phone call from Apple and they told me the logic board was not working anymore and they wanted to offer me a MacBook Pro. I told them I could barely afford the $300.00 repair fee as it was, and thanks for the offer, but, we just cannot afford to purchase a new computer at this time…I will just have to say no. And the tech said, “Ma’am, you don’t understand. We cannot repair the logic board and for the cost of the quoted repair, we are going to GIVE you a brand new 17″ MacBook Pro as a replacement for the PowerBook G4 that cannot be repaired.” I almost fell over! It was (at the time, a 2900.00 computer). I walked out of the Apple store with a brand new 17″ MacBook Pro for $323.27 quoted repair fee…. amazing.

Then, in 2010, we had our apt broken into and the thief took my Canon camera and also my 17″ MacBook Pro (yep, the same one that they replaced from the non-functioning logic board). We luckily had them recovered. The thief had damaged my MacBook, which was not under warranty anymore. The tech looked it over and told me that it was going to be a 1700.00 repair, but because of the fact of HOW it got damaged, (through no fault of my own), Apple did the repair at no charge to us…

Their customer service has always been fantastic with us and we will never even look at another product other than Apple. There have been other instances where they have just gone the extra mile and because of that, we will be customers for life.

Anna Goldstein

J.Crew has the best customer service ever. I will be a customer for life with them!


I was a member of a bank for several years. They were local so I liked how easy it was to get to them when I needed.

But then one day my card was compromised and someone was making fraudulent charges. I caught it happening early enough that the charges were still pending. I called the bank and told them that those were fraudulent charges. They told me nothing could be done until the charges went through. When the charges went through, my account got put in the red. I fought with the bank to get those charges taken care of, including calling the police and the recipient of those charges (so that they knew they had a customer who was being false).

-Finally- the bank decided to take those charges off. Then they charged me for my account being in the red. I had to fight with them on that, too, and it took multiple phone calls before that was finally fixed, too. Let’s not get into how many phone calls it took before they would finally cut the overdraft (you could opt out but boy did they make it hard!).

Then when I was closing my account after finding a new bank, they yanked my chain around and did everything they could to lock me in. The woman was strange, too, asking me if I liked her boots. I spent an hour in there trying to get my account closed.

I refuse to have anything to do with that bank ever again!! I’m so much happier with this other bank. It’s waaaaaaay convenient to work with and have shown they are more willing to work with you when what few problems do arise. My boyfriend uses the same bank and he got a call from the bank because someone in California did a charge on his account the same day he bought gas in Virginia. So they were able to stop his money from being stolen.


I have to say some of the best customer service I get is from Costco. I have returned items years after buying, and they gave me a return credit, no questions asked. Partly because they keep records of every purchase you ever make there, so it’s easy for them to find that you did buy the item from them.

Another time I was trying to return a hand-held vacuum. The customer service person spent over an hour with me trying to find the record of purchase. She even offered to give me the credit anyway. I told her “no” because after a while I wasn’t certain I’d bought it there. When I got home, my wife told me that we had bought it at Target, not Costco.

BTW, Derek, I notice that your responses to posts peter out after about the first day or so. So does that mean you won’t read this? 🙂


People forget to be human sometimes. I experienced a little bit of this from a doctor when I went to see a new dermatologist on yesterday. But I will go back because of the impression made by the doctor’s front desk staff, medical assistant, and physician assistant. If it were based on how I felt about the doctor only then they would be crossed off my list. The staff really listened to what I had to say about my skin before making recommendations, and I like being listened to. When the doctor came in the room, he really did not look at me much at all except for the one time when he asked me to show him the areas of my skin that needed to be looked at. He had his head down most of the time and when he was writing, he didn’t tell me what he was doing and I kind of felt like he was ignoring the fact that he had a patient in the room with him.


Hi Derek,

I was all geared up to answer who’d lost me as a customer for life, but alas, I’ll go with the more positive story. 🙂 In fact, just recently I found myself saying that I would be a “customer for life” to a huge retailer because of outstanding customer service.

I’ve been shopping at J.Crew easily for 15 years. Love the style and the quality, and really love being able to get both for reasonable prices when (most of it) goes on sale.

I’d recently bought two skirts online that were “Final Sale.” It was a risk but I had to have them (I thought). They didn’t pan out. Then, about a month later I was perusing J.crew.com again and noticed they’re now allowing customers to review their products online. Something I thought they’d never do. So I left a review, stating why they didn’t work for me but were otherwise good.

Less than 24 hours later I had an email from a customer service rep, apologizing about the skirts, assuring me they’d notified their design team and department and offering to take them back for a full refund. THAT is some serious customer service. I don’t think any other company out there makes it a point to respond to individual customer reviews.

On another occasion–I’d used a general email address to inquire as to whether J.Crew ever used freelancers for their content. I got an email back right away that very politely told me all writing work was done in-house. Loved that too. Someone got that email and found the answer for me, even though it had nothing to do with me buying a product from them.

Joshua Rivers

When we lived just south of Detroit, we would go to a pizza buffet restaurant. After just a couple visits (each visit was a couple weeks apart), the manager on duty learned what our favorite pizzas were. As she would see us walk up, she would immediately make sure that those pizzas were being made. That was before we even paid. It was a little thing, but it was enough to show that she cared about us and wanted to provide the best experience possible.

Liz Hancock

Just recently I purchased a book by Maya Angelou (coincidence that you mentioned her quote!) from Amazon. As many already know, Amazon is awesome but what made them more awesome is that I received a notice that my book had been delivered — only it wasn’t.

I immediately went online and opened a chat with a customer service rep and told them the situation. They apologized, then immediately dispatched a 2nd book, for free.

They made a notice in the system so that the delivery service didn’t make the same mistake again, and I received my book the next day.

Now that is just one of the reasons why Amazon is killing it today.

Dazzling Dolly Lutz

Me again,
Just another point to think about…..When a Customer leaves ANY Business or Store because of being treated badly……They TELL everyone and many times those people will never go to that store or Business either.
Of course the opposite is true…..When a Customer is HAPPY about good or special service……they also tell everyone about it. WHICH would you like your Customers to be doing?
One store I shopped in had a sign at the Counter that said.
“If you are unhappy with our service…..tell US, we will do all we can to rectify the situation. If you are happy with our service….tell everyone you know……we would love to serve them as well.”

Missy Cooke

I used to browse around this little kitsch shop that sold lots of cutesy type knick knacks. But I only bought on special occasions, birthdays or anniversarIies.

One day the owner struck up a conversation with me and I told her I was buying gifts for my wedding party. She immediately went over and found this pretty candle, flavored “wedding cake”, wrapped it up and gave it to me with well wishes for my marriage.

The store isn’t even there any more, but I still remember the owner specifically.

Dazzling Dolly Lutz

Great Video….and excellent teaching, Derek….
I’ve been in “Sales” since 15 and had lots of “old school” teaching on how to be of service. I’ve also owned a Retail Store for 7 years and know 1st hand what it takes to KEEP a Customer once you have one. You hit on so many good points. It’s rather sad that girl just didn’t use some common sense when she spoke with you. That is what I see missing more than almost any other thing in the Retail sector today.
The Company has “rigid rules” and give no wiggle room for the Employee to use plain common sense.
Don’t Employees’ get it that WE pay their paychecks, not the Company they work for? Without repeat Customers….there is NO Business.
(You already gave a very good example of what she COULD have said)

I’m so happy you asked for positive experiences. Here’s the one MOST memorable to me.
After a particularly emotional day spent with my 3 month old “Special needs” Grandson who was recovering from his 3rd surgery…..I ran into a Grocery store that I rarely shopped at to grab a few things. It was very nearly midnight, right near closing time …..I was exhausted, and not dressed as nicely as I usually am. Without a list to go by, I grabbed the things I needed most and while going through the check-out realized I’d forgotten two things…..and was now holding up the line-up.
The Cashier gave me the “dirty look”, rolled her eyes and let out a big sigh like she was saying “Oh brother, get your act together”.
I was feeling very embarrassed and felt like grabbing my wallet and just leaving everything on the counter……(close to tears).

The 2nd Cashier who was bagging…….looked at her and said, “Just put everything to the side and I’ll go help her”. She literally came around the counter and gently took me by my arm and led me away. “I can see you are upset about something and if you want to share with me…I’m here to listen”. I nearly burst into tears….instead I quietly told her about my Grandson, and how hard the last few months had been. She was VERY kind and by the time we got back up to the checkout I felt a whole lot better and thanked her profusely for her kindness and empathy. She actually walked me all the way to the door.

That was almost FIVE years ago….and I’ve returned to that store many, many times…..Yes, I get groceries but mostly to say hello to her and see how she is doing. I even brought my Grandson in a few times and she is awesome with him too.
Companies used to give “Employee of the Month” awards and I hope they still do that as an incentive for them to give good service.

Nick Ritchie

Great Video – Derek, I’ll reward you. You’re delivering great content, thank you for that.


Derek I am not in sales per se but I am all about the customer / client being being numero uno in fact I always preach the concept of fudiciary duty to my customers and clients. It pays off! Here is what I experienced recently. You see I am a Construction Inspector for a well known University and am currently working on Stage 1 of this $400 million project. I recently had the customer INSIST very strongly that I remain on this project throughout even though I was slated only for the initial phase. Why? I was told it was because the customer stated I had their best interest at hand and they new they could trust that I always had their best interest in hand and they could concentrate on bigger things. When people know you have their best interest ahead of yours…. well their actions speak louder than you could imagine…..now that is compliment you can take to the bank.


Derek, you rock!
Thanks so much for the reminder!
Love,love your advice!


Got 2 case studies for ya!

The first is from Capital One 360. I signed up for a business savings account with them, and because I wasn’t sure how this online-only thing worked when I needed to deposit checks, I called in. Funniest, most polite, upbeat call center person I’ve ever talked to in my life. I’m tempted to move ALL my banking needs over to Capital One 360 now!

The last case study is from the guys over at Fizzle. After finishing their $1 first-month trial, I decided to pay in full for a year’s subscription. Unfortunately, a few days later our car broke down and we needed the money immediately (we only have one car). I emailed Corbett and asked if he could temporarily switch my payment system to monthly instead and explained the situation; he granted my request without any hesitation, and said he knew what it was like. Needless to say, I’m sticking with the Fizzle gang for life now (I can’t see them messing up customer service).


Good video derek…. The only thing i can also mention is the other side of the scale.. there is a such a thing a customers really not giving a damn and in an instant would flick you for no reason at all..

We have had a couple of time in our small business long standing customers that we have done nothing but give great service, our genuine time and helpful advice to look after them as much as possible, eventually at some point they all walked and for no real reason, actually one of them was because they knew someone else in the family who did the same work as us… and another time was someone who knew someone.

Regardless of the reason legitimate or just a backstab, even if you give the best service and have the customers best interest at all times it will not guarantee you a customer for life, sometimes customers have no loyalty and will in a flick of a switch ditch you for some other business despite how good the relationship was. We learnt this the hard way.

Melissa Wilson

I hate it when people follow rules so blindly that they forget to use common sense.

Here’s my example of someone doing something good though:
I placed an order through the Amazon marketplace and there ended up being an issue on Amazon’s end where I ended up paying for two of something but only getting one of it. I contacted the seller and even though it wasn’t their fault they gave me a full refund and sent me the missing second it too. Now if I have the opportunity to buy from that seller again, you better believe I will. At the very least I will give them good feedback for it.

Gil Michelini

Thanks for the reminder of being the business we would want to do business with.
The first company that came to mind for me are the triple C guys at Fizzle.co They provide an excellent product and have great customer support, even more so now that Barrett has joined them. I know they speak often of you–I found you through them–which demonstrates how businesses even within the same market can and should support each other.

Mark Struczewski

I recently received an order from CreateSpace which contained just two smudged copies. When I called CreateSpace, without hesitation, they reprinted the entire order. Now, I wish the order had 200 books in it instead of 20. 😉

Michelle Cottingham

Customer for life trumps all, word. Retention(aka relationship maintenance) is so much more rich and powerful & a lot less nerve wracking than laying your hustle out trying to earn new trust from strangers. That coffee shop messed up on that one- big time.
Other professionals in my field cringe when I share tales that mirror your email exchange with a dude about to “over-course” himself. Thanks for this one Derek.

Kerstin Castle

Amy Porterfield. She consistently over-delivers. Can’t ever imagine her treating you like dirt. In fact I wasn’t sure if her latest course was for me when I enrolled, but asked some questions before and felt reassured that I could get a refund if it wasn’t for me. I needn’t have worried, she always has every angle covered.

Melinda Todd

Yes! Amazon has gone above and beyond several times. TWICE they have replaced my kindle fire because the charging port stops working – I treat this baby like it’s gold and still had issues. And they replaced it once over night before I left for a trip to Haiti and wanted my Kindle for reading on the long flights. They’ve replaced other things as well just as easily. That’s customer service!


My mentor is a good guy – and should wear a white hat. (IMHO) I met him in the internet marketing niche when I had just about had the opinion en masse that all internet marketers are scum. John Adams (Tube Raider) showed me that he was different!

Long story short…I wouldn’t say John ‘under-promises’ he just sells ‘gently’ and over-delivers —- Big time! Truly I am lucky to have found him.

He puts his clients/students first and over-delivers from the start – so now – like the commercial – when John Adams speaks – I listen!


Great video Derek! And I love that you’re inviting us to share the GREAT experiences we’ve had instead of making this a “pile-on” of the not-so-great ones. I’ll never forget the flight attendant on a JetBlue airlines flight that had written a “have a great day” message on the napkin she gave me with my drink. I thanked her for the message when she went by again. When we landed, she handed me an empty water bottle with a rolled up napkin inside and said “this message in a bottle came in for you”. It turns out, she had written that same message on everyone’s drink napkin and I was the only one to take notice. She appreciated the appreciation. My message in a bottle said, “Rose are red, violets are blue…JetBlue appreciates customers like you.” Everyone likes to feel appreciated….on both sides of the spectrum! 🙂

Ray K.

As of late, I have trying to eat healthier foods.
A new raw and vegan take out place opened up a few months ago
5 minutes from my office.
Problem is they close at 6pm, and I finish work same time.

Two nights ago, I was famished and on a lark picked up the phone and called the store, at about 6:30pm. Sure enough the owner was there doing paperwork, and said: “Come on down, I will open the door to the store in 10 mins”.
Needless to say, I grabbed a whole bunch of stuff of the shelves in 2 mins, for a few days, and when he found out my two daughters are vegetarian, he threw in extra stuff for them.

Then he said, he was thinking about staying open till 7pm, and I| guess
my visit reaffirmed his thoughts.

Will I be shopping there on a regular basis from now on?

You betcha!


3 cases:

1. Amazon: I applied for a card to get a discount on my purchase. It would be free for a while, then I’d have to pay. Of course I forgot to cancel it before the payment was due. I called to have this fee removed and I was expecting a fight, instead they automatically removed the fee, no questions asked. LOVED IT.

2. Best Buy: They say you can return something within 15 days and I did no questions asked. Bought a macbook charger for a week, returned it within the 15 day window, money back, no hassles, no explanations= I will continue to buy from them forever.

3. Marie Forleo: I bought B-School and decided it wasn’t a good fit at the time. I did my homework (as is her policy) and then asked for a reimbursement. Not only did her company respect the policy but I got the most amazing email thanking me for trying out the program, asking me for feedback, and wishing me the best. It made me maintain the positive image that I have of Marie.

Stephen H

A large electronics store did this for me. I had an issue with something I bought – a very expensive something. When I took it back for repair 18 months later, they followed the “rules” and it was very inconvenient, but I acquiesced because it was truly out of their control. (they gave me a “loaner” while mine was being fixed – which was their suggestion, not mine.)

When I went back and the repair turned into a replace, they went so far out of the way to fix the problem. I had searched all over 6 states to find the exact product I wanted the first time, and now NO ONE carried that – or it’s replacement. They could have given me a “comparable model”, but instead gave me a full refund in store credit (the price plus tax I originally paid) to put toward the purchase of whatever I wanted. I wound up buying a product twice as expensive as the original. They not only made a customer for life, but made another sale that day.

Now, every time I walk into the store, that manager knows me by name and welcomes me personally. He made a bad situation create a customer for life – by not blindly following the rules. He didn’t cheat, or lie, or steal, or do anything out of bounds… but he didn’t HAVE to do anything, and he would have still been in his rights.

I now find myself buying 3 times more a year from them than I did before – even sometimes when I can find it cheaper elsewhere.

Mary Planding

Thanks Derek! Really well done and spot on!!! You said it so well. And Maya Angelou’s quote fits this brilliantly. I think we often remember more of the times we’ve treated poorly by companies because we will tell everyone we know of what a bad experience we had (United Breaks Guitars ring a bell?). But those fade quickly.

What I remember most, of all the experiences I’ve had, was when we were eating dinner and had taken a dear older friend out to celebrate at her favorite restaurant in Brooklyn (yes I’m a native NYer). (This was many years ago.) They made her feel like a queen – gave her the best table with the nicest view, served her food especially hot (she liked her soup to be boiling hot), anticipated everything she liked best and delivered it with a smile. Everyone – from the maitre d’ to the busboys were so gracious and kind to all of us.

And then, suddenly just as we were enjoying our desserts, she started to gasp in pain. She was having a heart attack. Within seconds they had called an ambulance, cleared a passageway for the stretcher, helped make her comfortable, and enlisted the help of the rest of the diners to move out of the way. They continued to serve their customers, but the owner and the manager stayed with us and once the paramedics got her stabilized, walked beside her stretcher to the ambulance telling her all would be well, with tears in their eyes. They turned to us, asked us to keep them informed as as we dashed off to follow in our car. Fortunately, our friend recovered. And I did call and tell them how she was and asked them to send me the bill for the dinner. And you know what? They never charged us (or her) for that meal. In fact, they sent her flowers, and for a week once she was home, they sent her dinner every night. When I called to thank them and asked them why, the owner’s answer was, “She’s been coming here for 20 years. She sends all her friends here and has, for 20 years. She’s become as dear to us as our own mother. If she needs anything else, you let us know.”

Sadly, that restaurant has since closed (the owner retired). It was not a 5-star restaurant, it was a little hole-in-the-wall Italian neighborhood family place that was always packed. And because of how they treated our friend, it became a favorite of mine as well. And what a lesson I learned that day about how truly caring about them creates loyalty – both ways.


I’m going to turn this right around. A client rang me recently to ask why I hadn’t invoiced a job – I had clean forgotten. They have got a flexible, good-value dedicated supplier for life.


In my business I sell a lot of instant download digital products – editable invitations and such. I have a no return after download policy clearly stated on my website since items like these really can’t be returned.

However, that doesn’t stop people from asking for a refund now and then. I’ve learned that 99% of the time they just need a little hand holding. They are usually new to this concept and don’t quite understand how to use the files.

I could just say sorry no refunds and be on my way but, if I take a few minutes out of my day and send a few emails to help them out they realize how easy my files are to use and come back for more.

As far as other businesses customer service – Chick-fil-a ROCKS!! As a mother of three I occasionally stop in for lunch and to let my kids play in the play room. I love love love that they help me by bringing my order to my table, come to my table to offer me free refills and clean the trash from my table – all at a fast food joint! It really reduces my stress while watching my kids. I will always choose Chick-fil-a over any other fast food place (plus the fact the food is way better!!!)

Jacquelynne Steves

I have traveled quite a bit in the last few weeks, and when on the road I stopped for fast food frequently. 2 occasions stick out in my mind, once at Arby’s and another at Boston Market, where the employees taking my order were so incredibly friendly and helpful. They made my experience there very pleasant- they went beyond taking my order in simply a courteous way. They treated me (and everyone who walked in) as if I were a friend. I would definitely go back to those places. It’s so important to make sure that customers’ very first impression is the absolute BEST impression. After being treated so well, the food didn’t have to be perfect (it was actually pretty good), but it wouldn’t have mattered because I was already having a good experience and I would have been willing to overlook other small deficiencies.


I just saw a phenomenal example of good service and dealing with the rules this morning.

I went into my usual coffee shop, and behind me was a woman carrying a chihuahua. I didn’t notice the dog – it was very small and very quiet.

But I also know that health laws are pretty strict when it comes to animals being in places where food is served.

Sure enough, the shift manager did ask the woman to take her dog outside, but she handled it in a great way. She said “Unfortunately we can’t allow your dog inside, but we’ll take your order and payment, then we’ll bring everything outside to you.”

I’ve never seen a barista bring anything to anyone INSIDE the store – they generally just yell your name, and have you walk up to the counter. But making sure everyone’s needs were met by going just a little above and beyond really impressed me. And I’m not the direct beneficiary of those actions – but I’ll likely be a bigger fan because of what I saw them do.


I recently had a freaking amazing experience with PayPal customer service.

I think it was outsourced but it totally didn’t matter because the dude was so helpful. Also, mine was a very complicated request to figure out and I was frustrated already from trying to figure it out myself. The guy kept his cool the whole time and just went through it with me step-by-step, which calmed me down so much.

Afterwards, I did the survey, spoke to his manager, wrote an email and then tweeted about it. It’s awesome companies like this with even more awesome employees like this that help to cancel out all the other bad customer service interactions (read: Verizon/Comcast) we have more often.

I always make it a point to publicly thank the company when I have a great experience like this one.


The camera is always rolling….when you see a business owner or employee outside of their place of business and their words and behaviors do not align with who they are “on the job”, they lose credibility and customers for life.

Moral of the story, be the same person when the spot light is NOT on you as you are when the spot light IS on you.


Two examples for me;

1. A sunglass retailer in Washington DC who sold me a pair of glasses in 2006 whilst on vacation, on returning to the same store in 2008 the assistant recognised me, greeted me by name, sold me the perfect glasses and threw in a free hard case at no extra charge.

2. A local Italian restaurant that we visited in a whim one Sunday afternoon, we had our toddler daughter with us and she got antsy and started playing up before we had finished eating. The waiter scooped her up, played with her at an adjacent empty table and kept her occupied till my wife and I had finished our meals. We’ve been back so many times, they know us by name (even the kids) nothing is ever too much trouble and the service is A1 (the food is amazing too) EVERY family occasion is now held there and we never even think of going elsewhere. We take our friends there when they visit us, and we tell everyone how awesome it is. It all stemmed from looking after our daughter so 2 parents could have 5 minutes to finish their meals… We’ve probably spent thousands there and it’s been worth every penny.


I have a financial adviser who, from what I gather personally and from talking with other clients of his, treats us all well no matter what our financial assets are. I can’t tell you how loyal this makes me feel! He has some extremely wealthy clients I’m sure and then there are the rest of us. 🙂 Regular schmoes and schmo-ettes trying to save for retirement. I recommend him all the time to people who ask me if I know someone good to help them. He’s smart, honest, kind – but most of all he treats all of us, his customers, with respect and kindness and goes out of his way to help us wherever he can. And there you have it. 🙂

Angela Todd

Believe it or not, Amex called to say my payment was about to incur a late fee, and could they handle it that day? I hate liking them, but I do.


Too right Derek. It’s never about me, it’s always about my clients.

Being a life coach I use that every day. I don’t sell them on my truth, I assist them in finding theirs.

Thanks, good stuff!

Kyle Alm

Les Schwab tires used to make me feel that way. They would fix your flat tires for free and I always bought tires from them.

Couple of things happened after old man Schwab died, they only fixed flats for their tires (which were identifiable by brand) and their insistence at selling tire siping.

Really, it was the store manager coming out to greet me and looking over at a co-worker and making a fishing reel motion right before he tried to sell me tire siping for $12 per tire. Never went back, and it was the only tire store within 30 miles.


I went in for an oil change in a new city. When I finished and way paying, they held up a card, and said 10% of my purchase would go on a credit, if I ever needed a tow I could call the number on the back for 50 miles free towing, and if I was ever outside of the city and needed mechanical help, they would either walk me through it or talk to the mechanic for me. I was standing there waiting for the punchline about how it costs $100 or something to join the membership, and they said nope, it’s just because I was their customer. To top it off, when I recommend someone they put $25 on my account as a credit! And it’s not hard to recommend them- they are AWESOME. Like, beyond words awesome. I’ve left glowing reviews about them on Yelp, posted about them on Facebook, and told all my friends in the city to go there. They definitely have a customer for life. If anyone is reading this is Seattle, it’s Bernie’s Automotive in Ballard. Tell Will that Abigail sent you;)


The greatest problem that I see in winning customers is that business is not consistent. One day they are good and the next they are not. For instance, Food and coffee. When you buy either one at today’s prices, it needs to taste perfect. It does not that is why they fail. Give your best to your customer every time, every day and in every way.

Dawn B. Dwyer

My flight into LA was changed to a direct flight … yeah! But wait it put me at the Hotel at 10am, too early for check-in. Now when I arrived at the ho-tel I had told the bellman how awesome the hotel felt just driving up to it and walking in vs the W Hotel in Hollywood it’s sister ship. I gave him a tip and then realized that I can’t check-in till later. He stepped up and took me over to the desk and asked if Ms. Dwyer could get a room now rather than waiting till the normal check in time of 2-3pm? They got a room and I went up to it and was shocked out of my mind. They upgraded me to a suite with two televisions, huge bathroom, living room, study and walk-in closet. I realized that the two of those guys ie the bellman and check


Hi Derek and others,

The last time I got a haircut, my hair was rushed, presumably because her queue was delayed, EVEN THOUGH I was on time and waited, and my hair turned out not the way I wanted. It was the worst cut I got from her, and I felt my time was less important than other customers’. I thought I’d found someone I could keep my business with, but I decided not to go back for that mistake compounded with another minor mistake.

The video makes total sense for a business that sells repeatedly (haircuts, coffee, multiple premium products for sale, etc.). But what if your business model allows sale of just ONE product? After they buy, they might be a fan for life, but they won’t be a direct customer for life.

My guess is that having their best interest at heart will make it more likely for them to refer my product to other customers, even if they end up not buying.

Do you think this is right?


    As a hairdresser, I have to respond to this. If you have otherwise been happy with your stylist and this disappointment is a one off deal, please consider staying with them and just being honest about the sense of being rushed and that your haircut was not up to the usual high standard of your previous experiences there. Often a stylist is running late because someone before you came late. We are forever juggling what happens to our schedules when a client or two arrive late or change their minds about what they want to do and it is incredibly stressful for us but we try our best to take care of everyone, often at the expense of luxury time such as lunch or going to the bathroom, since skipping those things lets us make up for some of the schedule issues. I have had someone describe to me the same scenario and ask me to just make sure that I’m not squeezing them in as they’d rather wait their appointment until I’m able to take time with them. Once I understood that, it never happened again as I knew her priorities and that I could reschedule her if needed. If you do decide to schedule with that stylist again, I recommend that you book an additional 10 minutes or so and have a polite but honest conversation about your experience. When booking, just say that you’d like some additional time for a consultation before your haircut. All bets are off, of course, if this sort of problem has been habitual with that stylist but please do reconsider your position if you have been otherwise happy there.


SEO Moz (now Moz) refunded me a day after my trial cancellation expired even though they didn’t have to.

More importantly when I told them the reason for canceling (my freelancing client scrapped the project & cancelled our contract last minute), the customer support rep showed empathy:

She said “it can be super scary not knowing where you’re next freelance gig is coming from or when you’ll be getting paid next. We’re happy to refund you, and we hope your next client works out.”

Instant brand ambassador for life.

Allison Rapp

Just last night, we were on our way home from our dog training class (it’s really “people training class” but no one would pay if they called it that–oh wait, that’s a different video).

We hadn’t eaten, I wanted avocado, and it was right around 9 pm — just when our fave grocery store is closing. Both the car clock and my phone said we had 2 minutes to get in the door, but it was already locked when I got there.

I told the woman on the other side that I just wanted 1 thing… not expecting to get in because I didn’t recognize her. But the cashier who was still open knows me and when she saw me, the door opened, I got my avos and left with a big smile on my face.

And this is why I never shop at any of the other stores in town!


When I see businesses ing to not be so rigid with their rules and policies it gives them a more human and approachable side. My restaurant I work at will allow families with small children to bring in their own outside food for their kids. Usually a massive no at most places but this gets us them as constant return customers.
(it’s not my business but a part time job as I try to grow my online in)

Ps was the maya Angelou quote intended with her passing? Amazing timing if not and probably her best quote in my eyes.


I always notice when a business goes above and beyond. On the flip side, it’s annoying when a business lets a rule get in the way of common sense and good customer service.

Recently I was sent a discount code by a Kids Clothing Business (for referring new customers to them). I lost the discount code – in fact I think it had expired. I emailed them explaining I’d lost the code and they immediately sent me a new one. No questions asked. Of course, I still refer customers their way.

In my own business, I like to create loyal customers by surprising people. Sometimes I’ll send a surprise offer. Or even just a personal email to see if I can help out in any way.

Naomi Catalina

I have to say how much I love Safeway supermarkets. Even though they don’t have the same offering of organic that I like to get from TJ’s or Whole Foods, they have great customer service. Everyone makes eye contact, says hello, and goes out of their way to help me find something. The other stores’ service are just a notch below, slight attitude, distraction, whatever from the staff when I need something. At Safeway I feel less like I’m putting someone out for needing help. Good topic Derek, thanks~


    I feel that way about Wegmans here on the East Coast. They have everything I want, including a huge selection of organic, and the customer service is excellent. They’ve spent many years on the Forbes list as one of the best places to work, as well.

Jeff Black

Derek, I am not saying that I disagree, but I have a hard time not enforcing some rules, namely the cancellation policies of my business. I am a personal fitness trainer and accountability is part of my job. I work with people in every way possible. But the one thing I refuse to budge on is my cancellation policy. Unless someone is sick or has an emergency, they will lose a training session with me, if they fail to notify me with more than a 24 hour notice. I also require a doctors note or verification of the emergency in some shape, form or fashion. Am I wrong for sticking to my guns? I let them know immediately that I have to charge them. In the past, I allowed this and felt used because one month of training would take up 3 months of my schedule and I missed new opportunities because my schedule wouldn’t be able to accommodate new clients. On top of that, my client failed to see results and would later quit (while blaming me, of course, because of my inability to make magic happen). In truth, I feel it was my inability to hold them accountable. If I am wrong for having this opinion, then I am open to solutions. A side note: I am officially at my lowest point with clients, so I am clearly not doing something right! :-/

    Dawn B. Dwyer

    I would love to hear Derek’s response to this too as I totally get where you are coming from. My only thought is that you have to make people feel that you are not punishing them. The Customer always has to win and be right, even when they are not otherwise you create these bad feelings around themselves that they relate to YOU and YOUR BUSINESS. That is what makes them find someone else, because you don’t make them feel good anymore by something you did or said to them, even if they know they were wrong. Perhaps have them make a pledge in the beginning that they sign saying that they want you to charge them if they don’t show up so that it will build a healthy habits and a discipline for them to exercise and train. That way you are doing what they told you to do and you make sure that they read it out loud to you and get what they are signing. Then you are just doing what they told you to do. Just an idea but don’t know if it will still make them feel bad? Just remember when people complain about a business they tell about 50 people, when they say something nice it may only be about 4 or 5. Don’t quote my numbers but you get the idea.

      Jeff Black

      Thanks for the comments! I never try to be negative. I have an award system with clients (they actually get a free trigger point massager kit) when they complete a certain number (3 months) of workouts in a row. I truly, truly want to help these people.

      I truly enjoy reaching out to customers (past, present & future) and talking to them and helping in ways that I can (without devaluing my services). Some people seem self destructive and sometimes I feel at a loss when it comes to ways to get them to adhere to just the routine of seeing me regularly per their schedule. I want to see them succeed! They love it, I love it, and I get more business.

      The people who do see me regularly, make mistakes along the way (we are all human and fast food is sometimes a hard habit to break), but they also see some measure of results. Even if it is only the psychological accomplishment of adhering to regular exercise.

      I guess, in short, my biggest problem is getting people to regularly do something that they need to do, but do not always want to do. They want results, but they do not want to do the work.

      Sometimes, I feel like I am selling colonoscopies to the general public! HAHA!

        Amir Pozderac

        Hi Jeff,

        I am a trainer too running my own business, and I know exactly what you are talking about! When a trainer works for a big gym, the customers will expect to be charged for a no-show because it is “company policy” and people rarely try to fight that.
        However, as a business owner – things are different, as they know it is “only” your time that is at stake.
        The reason I wrote “only” is because most clients will perceive your time only as valuable as YOU STATE IT TO BE!
        In other words, the first time I meet with a new client, I tell them that my most valuable, non-renewable resource is- my time (because we can always get more money, more business, more health, more everything but we can never be one day younger!) and after making that clear, they are not surprised when I tell them that they will be charged for a no-show.
        And for those percentage of clients who will lie to you by saying that their back hurts or whatever – you are much better off firing them ASAP!
        Because they are not committed = they will not get results = that’s killing your business’s most important asset = reputation for getting people results!
        I suggest you fire those and focus on the rest of them who are committed, who you can help get awesome results, and they employ some referral-getting strategies to have them send you their coworkers, family, neighbors etc…
        Best of luck!

    Darlene @BlogBoldly

    Hey Jeff!

    I’m sure Derek will give you his opinion.

    But meanwhile, you got me. LOL

    To me, your cancellation policy and what happened to Derek at the coffee shop, are not the same thing.

    He was sitting in an empty cafe when the manager decided to enforce that rule. If it was packed and Derek had been there a couple hours, I’d hope he would have graciously left had the manager whispered in his ear that she had to enforce the rule.

    But in my view, if you don’t have consequences for “forgotten” appointments, you’ll have a lot of empty spots. If it makes you feel any better, my business coach has a 48 hour cancellation rule.

    As far as your sidenote, obviously there’s not enough info to surmise on that.. but have you thought about doing a one time brainstorming session with someone you respect? I’ve done that twice (aside from my regular coach) and it got me unstuck.

    darlene 🙂


      I agree …except …there should be an allowance for unforeseen and exceptional interferences. ON a case by case basis. Such as mom died and I gotta go. Or my hubby just went to ER. School called and my daughter fell and broke… You get the idea. Disallowance for these kinds of happenings would make me run from you. Never to return. Ever. Just like Derek.

        Jeff Black

        I definitely have leniency, but when it comes to fitness, you would be AMAZED how people lie lie lie to their trainers. Oh goodness! It’s crazy. If things are clearly not under their control, then I understand and provide appropriate flexibility. However, many people claim “I am so sick and my back hurts! I cannot even get out of bed.” Then, I see them later on the FaceSpace or the Twinstagram ballroom dancing at a gala or head banging at a death metal concert!


          Anyone who gets lie, lies, lies doe not have solid relation with their customer. Because people lie when then feel the can not tell the truth to get what they want. So consider what you are doing to get lies, lie, lie. And I do not mean to be disrespectfully. But at age 72, Ive seen it. Been there. Both sides. And there are enough comments in here to tell you where going the extra mile cements the engagement of the 20% to keep coming back.

          I am in the tree biz. And how I differentiate my work to another tree company is like this…

          example 1: customer late coming home and tells me. So I find the time they will be here and have pizza delivered for the family. Save them oodles of time when running behind.

          example 2: hire a baby sitter for Mrs Jones. So she can go do her thing while we do her trees and landscape.

          example 3: the property is a mess when we work. Cut branches and pieces of tree everywhere. Making it hard for the customer to leave her house to go somewhere. So I have her notify a crew member 5-10 minutes before she leaves. So everyone on my team stops their work and gives her assistance. Walking the family to the car. Backing the car out. Checking for traffic.

          Now hear this: what can you do next time you hear a lie? So you can cement an engagement with your customer and convert them to your 20%????


        Add to my comment above: And when you listen to them. And give them what they want. They feel even more to return. Especially when you ask ..what else can you do for them? Or ask for the hospital to send flowers. Or something EXTRA that another biz would NOT do.

Darlene @BlogBoldly

Fun! I get to tell one of my favorite stories of all time.

Years ago I worked for the largest land developer in the country. We had gorgeous property and we sold lots (home-sites) like hot cakes. Nobody could ever figure out how we sold so much property, so fast. There were many reasons but one was the way we made potential buyers feel.

Anyhoo, I worked there about five years. Then gave notice so I could go into business for myself. I’m sitting at my desk during the last week of employment and everyone was talking about the Vegas trip coming up the following month. (We were frequently rewarded with free trips.) The regional manager happened to be there and he asked me something about the trip. I reminded him Friday was my last day.

You know what he said?

Oh, who cares? We’ve already bought your ticket and room. You’re coming with us.

I’m almost finished.. I promise 🙂

About a year later I was having lunch with another big developer from the area, and he tried to “pick my brain” about how my former employer sold so much property. I refused. He was incredulous! He reminded me I hadn’t worked there in a year.

It didn’t matter.. My old company had earned my loyalty for life with their last act of kindness.

darlene 🙂

Xan Barksdale

You hit the nail on the head with this video…there are too many companies that enforce mindless rules that don’t have the loyal customer in mind.

I recently had some problems with my wireless router so I took it back to the Apple store. I’ve been an Apple fan for years and have probably spent $15k on multiple MacBooks, iMacs, iPhones, iPads, routers, and other accessories.

When I had a problem with a product that the warranty ran out on the week before, they didn’t hesitate to reward my loyalty and do whatever they could to keep me happy…that’s why I’m an Apple customer for life.

Keep up the great work, love watching the videos…always entertaining and insightful!

Shannon Rinckey

I think Marie Forleo is kicking butt in customer service. In her online business course, B-School, for example, she offers group calls a few times during the course. I felt great to be able to ask her a question directly.

Dave Bross

Years ago I owned a scrap metal business.

My favorite iron & steel scrap broker (big player who buys quantity) treated me like gold.

He would call me two weeks in advance of a price drop so I could move all my metal before the drop.
He would hook me up with local business deals that made us both good money.

His name was Rep Boyette and he was a broker for the David J. Joseph Company.
Years later I discovered this entire company had been operating this way since they first began in (I think) the 1800s.

As per Maya Angelou’s quote, I always will remember how I felt about that.

Here’s a quote from the David Joseph website “about” section:

“When you’ve been around for over a century, you know the difference between quick opportunistic profits and long-term financial success. To DJJ, it’s about recycling one of the world’s most reusable materials, while conserving our precious natural resources in the process.

It’s also about understanding that our long-term mission can only be achieved by maintaining long-term relationships. We manage our business for the long term by creating a culture where people choose life-long careers and business partnerships span generations.”

I lost track of Rep when they closed up in Jacksonville but my best wishes and thoughts will always follow him, wherever he may be.


Jen Roberson

James Wedmore is INCREDIBLE. There have been several times where he has told me not to buy from him because it would cause financial hardship for us. He told me to use his free resources to make a little bit of money first which is what I am doing. I WILL BUY from him one day.

Kamila Gornia

Yep, I totally agree with this. I know there are several stores that have lost me as well because of the same exact thing. They act either elitist or just inconsiderate.

I also love the idea of thinking about getting customers for life rather than right now. I’m glad your upfront attitude with potential customers too, that’s really the most important thing. I always try to do this too – what’s the point in having a customer that will end up not going through the course in the end, not getting the true value (in this case, due to overwhelm)?

Get someone who knows you have their best interest at heart. I always say this to potential clients too, whom I do not think are ready for my services or are simply not a good fit. I did this with my photography clients and my coaching clients both and I’m sure they appreciate the honesty just as much as I would if someone said the same thing to me.

Good video and post, as per usual.


Any place that treats me like a friend.

I heard this concept before and find it true: If you asked a friend for $5.00, they’d happily give it to you because you are their friend. But if you ask a stranger for $5.00, it becomes much more difficult.

It goes back to what you said in your video, friends have your interests at heart.

Lisa Robbin Young

One of the things I learned about myself (and I think it applies to most customers) is that I want to find someone I can count on to give me what I need. I don’t WANT to go looking around for someone new. I want to be happy with my choice. I want to be a customer for life. It’s a hassle to find something new most of the time.

That’s been my guiding principle in developing my business as a coach and building my fan base as a musician. Gratitude is a powerful tool/approach to keep your best customers.


I once rented a car from a car sharing service and, while it was in my possession, someone somehow got into the car and stole the automated keybox. I honestly don’t know whether I left the car unlocked or someone was somehow able to break in without leaving much of a sign but when I called the company to explain what had happened the customer service rep asked me if there was any way the keybox could be in my house or one of my friends’ houses (i.e. – had I stolen it).

The T&Cs I had signed meant I had to pay for a replacement unless I could prove forced entry, and they had my credit card details so they knew they weren’t going to lose out, but they accused me of theft anyway. I had been a regular customer up until that point and I was furious.

When I called to make a complaint about the way I had been treated, the manager offered me an entire year of free car hire but I didn’t want to ever use their service again. I also badmouthed the company to everyone who would listen until they were finally bought out by Zipcar a couple of years ago. And I still wouldn’t even consider using Zipcar, even though they had nothing to do with it. Memories of being treated like crap last forever!

    Derek Halpern

    Wow, they accused YOU of the theft?

Chuck Gilmore

Bought a shirt at Nordstroms and within weeks the elbow ripped out. I took it in and they gave me a new shirt…no questions, no hassle, no attitude. And they have a customer for life. Me.

Brooks Palmer

I’m getting married in two weeks and I wanted to get a special shirt for the ceremony. I found a shirt on hippieshop.com. I wanted a particular color, but the website said I had to pick two colors in case the one I wanted wasn’t available. I didn’t want to do that. So I called the company. The woman on the phone took the time to walk in to the warehouse and find the color I wanted and promised I’d get it. She could have gone with the company policy of picking two colors, but she went out of her way to personally help me. That makes me want to do business with them again.

    Shaleen Sharma

    I remember a nice experience with a real estate company called Jupiter. We were in the process of purchasing land and most companies we talked to were not forthcoming when it came to paperwork wrt to project clearances etc (even though they did have them. Funny!). But this particular company we dealt with; they make sure that their agents travel with copies of all project, civil, environmental clearances in their bags. Whether the customers asks for it or not!

    Imagine how a few hundred pages in the bag can do credibility a world of good.

DGrant Smith

The EXACT same thing happened to me with a coffee shop. I had supported them in a variety of ways outside of just buying coffee (promoting their events, etc). One day a very bad customer experience led to be black-listing them because of the treatment. I still only go there if there’s a session or group that’s meeting there, but I don’t order anything. My bad experience had to do with not ordering coffee right away while meeting someone who was using WiFi. Since I wouldn’t order coffee right away, they asked us to leave. I never went back.
Thanks for sharing this experience with me and for sharing insights into how this affects business, in getting customers for life. When even small businesses fail at this, it’s a bad thing. We expect large companies to operate in a way that treats customers like numbers and don’t really care about them. But small business needs customers for life. Well done Derek!

    Derek Halpern

    Well, I could see how a new employee would make that mistake. But you’re right. They could have approached it slightly differently.


You ending sticks forever in my mind. More than anything you said. And helps me remember what you said about customers for life and not for life.


    Derek Halpern

    What about it made it stick?

Alex Hanse

Hey, this was really good! Putting customers are the center of your life is really a valuable thing to do and it really does go far.

I guess I have a lot to improve upon, but I don’t want to go worrying about all the customers I lost either.

Also, I remember a young lady at target who gave the best customer service! So warm, and so friendly! So I went out of my way to tell the manager about her. Till this day she remembers me when I walk in even when I don’t see her when I walk in initially.

I may have gotten a friend for life because for once someone saw her hard work and decided to say something about it!

Once again, great stuff. I have been watching this stuff for quite sometime and it is so informative. Hopefully, I can shake your hand one day just to tell you thanks in person! Nothing more, nothing less! And a Bro-Hug! Because Bro’s need love to!

Be blessed man! Deuces!

Be better than you were yesterday!

Great quote from Maya as well! May her soul rest in power!

Shaleen Sharma

That is true. Another thing I remember from your earlier videos, is that businesses over-promise and under-deliver. That is another way to make customers scoot. Hey.. one more thing, about popups, isn’t the socialtriggers popup too large? Like I use a tab, and ut takes up my entire screen. I don’t know maybe some data analysis might be needed on small vs large.

    Derek Halpern

    Good thinking.

Adam LoDolce - Sexy Confidence

I totally agree. I hate “rules” that are enforced just for enforcing “rules”. I just left a gym for the same type of reason. Great video Derek.

    Derek Halpern

    You’re welcome, and I’m all for the rules. But sometimes they’re made to be broken.


Working in marketing for one of the top retailers we constantly evaluate both active and dormant members to better segregate our constant purchasers,

offering a lower-tiered less-aggressive deal(s) and giving members of those that are dormant or near stale in terms of recent purchases, by offering a more aggressive deal, in turn to winning them over.


    What if the constant purchasers found out you are actually giving dormant customers better deals? Have this ever happened? Is this one of your concerns at all?

    People do talk and compare notes. If I were a constant purchaser and found out about this, I’d be mad.

    Derek Halpern

    And this is all via email marketing?


      All through email marketing. Now we do offer a cyclical-subscription based option but those members are not included in the evaluation.

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