Small Business Customer Service: The Last Frontier

Photo Credit: IMDB

Photo Credit: IMDB

I was turned on to Alaska: The Last Frontier about a year ago and was instantly hooked.  In the show, the Kilcher family lives on a gigantic homestead in Alaska, hunting, fishing and growing all of their food and making just about everything they need with their bare hands–or from a bunch of spare parts in the back yard.  Heck, per Jenny’s recent post, I have seen bears make these folks stronger.

The name of the game in Alaska is to work around the clock in the summer months to store up enough food and supplies for eight months of brutal winter.  While I admittedly purchase almost everything I own and travel to a store for almost everything I eat, there are some strong parallels between the homesteader lifestyle and doing customer service in a small business setting.  Here are my top five:

Be Resourceful

In Alaska, waste is not a word in their vocabulary.  I’ve seen them turn an old trailer into a cow milking station and the severed roof of a Volkswagen bug into a sled for hauling hay in the winter.  In small business customer service, resources are often limited.  It might mean that in order to offer customer service on all of the latest and greatest support channels you might have to have a few freemium tools mixed in there that don’t totally integrate into one slick system.  While you may start out with this due to a tight budget, the key is to constantly find cost effective ways to improve tools and integration.

Be Versatile

I’m convinced there’s nothing the Kilcher family can’t do or make.  They are musically talented can grow or make just about anything with their hands.  In a small business, it’s very rare that you can make a living doing one specific job.  When it comes to customer service you may be asked to wear many hats.  To ensure the success of you, the organization, and your customers it’s best to embrace these with a positive, willing attitude.

Be Accurate

On the homestead, the Kilcher family frequently goes on bear hunts.  When it comes to hunting, an accurate shot is all the difference between hundreds of pounds of food in their freezer and none.  Accuracy is a must.  In a small business every customer is the life blood of your organization.  This doesn’t require perfection but it does require accuracy.  It’s critical to have a well-trained team that consistently addresses customer issues accurately.

Be Responsible

There’s a lot of hunting and killing of animals in Alaska: The Last Frontier.  While this may turn many viewers off to the show, it is a critical means of survival for the Kilcher family.  They always portray it in a responsible way.  The hunter always thanks the animal for the life and sustenance they are providing to them and they are always careful to use as much of the animal as they possibly can.  Similar to being resourceful, it’s essential to be responsible in small business customer service.  It’s about being grateful for every dime you earn and every customer you win and wasting nothing.

Be Community

Finally, in the show there’s a strong sense of family and community.  They constantly share their time and resources and are frequently seen lending a neighbor a hand with their cattle or some other project.  On a small business customer service team, it is critical that we are cohesive–constantly sharing our knowledge and resources to help each other out.

Are you a fan of the Kilcher family and/or customer service in a small business setting?  What are some parallels you see that I might have missed?  Feel free to share in a comment!


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  • Jenny Dempsey

    Great post, Jeremy. Totally got me on the bears. You didn’t discuss the other item on the list though (maybe that’s a good thing)…

    You spin this so well–wearing many hats, using resources, being a team–and so much more. We really have to remember to stay connected to what we DO have rather than what we DON’T have.

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