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Tough Love Is Part Of Outstanding Customer Service

Customer service means tough love

When we think about outstanding customer service, the first images typically conjured up are smiling, happy people doing everything they can to ensure that customers are smiling happy people.  We think about the powerful communication skills and attitudes that are part of customer service training programs.

Sometimes, however, it’s not quite that straight forward.  Sometimes the best way to demonstrate to your customers that you truly care is through tough love.

Elon Musk Takes Tough Action In The Name Of Customer Service

Elon Musk, the iconic CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, conducted a virtual clinic on this in April 2017.  When he saw a tweet from a Tesla owner complaining about other Tesla owners abusing supercharger stations, he took immediate action.  He implemented a policy that penalized people for using a supercharging station as a parking space.  The whole thing took only six days from complaint to solution.


It takes a lot of courage to get tough with customers who have dropped $80k or more with you.  But Mr. Musk understands the importance of communicating to the Tesla community how much he cares about their experience.  He understands that caring is the ultimate foundation of customer service.

“Thank You For NOT Lending Me The Money…”

I am often reminded of a conversation I had with one of our clients, the CEO of a mid-sized Canadian credit union.  It was just months before the 2008 recession hit, and he was explaining why they had such stringent lending requirements.  “We know one of our members can go to another bank and get the financing,” he told me, “but we also know that over-leveraging can turn ugly if something unforeseen happens.  I don’t want to be the bank that is greedy today, and having to turn into the collection agent tomorrow.”

When the recession hit, he had a lot of customers actually calling him to thank the company for NOT lending them the money.

Caring about customers means going beyond the treadworn myths about customers always being right  and ‘treating people the way you would like to be treated.’  It means doing the right things for your customers, even when it means tough love.

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  • Employee engagement, enjoyment and retention
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  • Communication errors
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  • Employee turnover

Learn more about Belding Training’s globally-acclaimed Internal Customer Service training