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A cat owner’s guide to great customer service

Over the last two and a half years, two (seemingly unconnected) events have occurred in my life: I started working at Yardstick, and I adopted Winnie, my cat. Here are some pictures of her, just because she’s cute.

Maddie's catMaddie's cat








These experiences have essentially run in parallel, and over time, I realised that the lessons I’m learning from both are linked.

At Yardstick, I’ve learned how to create mutually beneficial client relationships; juggle several responsibilities at once; and work my schedule around what my clients need. Surprisingly, being Winnie’s “mother” has taught me almost exactly the same set of skills.

I grew up with dogs – loyal, energetic, and generous – but owning a cat has been an entirely different experience. Unlike dogs, who are more like family members, a cat is essentially a client or customer.

This is because cats, like customers:

  • Are loyal only if their needs are met
  • Will express their dissatisfaction loudly and clearly
  • Often change their minds for reasons that seem unclear at first
  • Usually get their own way in the end.

Over the time I’ve had Winnie, I’ve worked out how to keep her happy while maintaining my own sanity, wellbeing, and peace of mind.

Stay with me while I explain what being a cat owner has taught me about great customer service.

Cats (and customers) dislike change – consistency is key

When I adopted Winnie, a cat owner friend gave me this piece of advice: “Remember, a cat’s idea of a perfect day is one that is exactly the same as the day before.”

She was right – cats hate change. When I brought Winnie home, she hid under my partner’s desk upstairs for days, barely eating or drinking. Months later she’s queen of the house, but still becomes spooked at unexpected sounds, sights, and smells.

If you provide an ongoing service to your customers, remember that consistency goes a very long way (Charlotte’s blog about the benefits of a style guide underlines this).

Knowing what to expect and when to expect it is the ideal situation for a customer or client. Essentially, the fewer worries or hassles they associate with you and your company, the more trusting they’re likely to be.

Tips for maintaining consistency with customers include:

  • Stick to the deadlines that have been agreed without exception (in other words, don’t feed them breakfast too late).
  • Avoid sudden changes to your usual routine and communications (for instance, I wouldn’t recommend wrestling a customer into a box and taking them to the vet against their will).
  • Maintain a calm demeanour when issues arise, even if you feel stressed on a personal level (if your customer has become stuck to a curtain while trying to climb it, don’t panic when trying to unhook them – they’ll only scratch you harder).

I jest, but the message rings true: stay consistent, and your customers will trust your decision-making.

Know which battles you’re going to lose and accept your fate sooner rather than later

When Winnie moved in with me and my partner, Chris, we had one very strict ground rule in place: she won’t be sleeping in bed with us.

Everyone told us we were crazy to think a cat would listen to our “rules”. But we’d both grown up with dogs that had their own bed and slept in it happily – it can’t be that hard to train a cat in the same way, can it?

How wrong we were. Like an outraged customer on TrustPilot, Winnie was very loud and clear about being shut out of the bedroom. For weeks on end, we received several one-star reviews for our customer service. At 4 am.

As I said earlier, cats and customers usually get their own way. You might manage to convince them of certain small things, but when they take a stance on something that matters to them, they’re likely to dig their heels in.

And as I learned with Winnie, who now sleeps directly on top of Chris’s chest with a smug grin on her face, entering a customer relationship with certain “deal-breakers” is probably not a great way to begin. You might find that your friendly relationship quickly turns into a battleground – a pointless one, because the likelihood is that you’ll end up doing things according to their wishes anyway.

So, take it from me: when meeting a new client or customer, quickly recognise what is important to them and be flexible in that area. Our whole family sleeps better now that Winnie has her way, and you might sleep better if your customers have theirs too.

This doesn’t mean giving in on all your principles, but it does mean understanding what makes your customers happiest and doing what you can to support them.

Work with experts to make sure your clients don’t move in with the neighbours

Remember when I mentioned that cats, like customers, are only loyal when their needs are met? In today’s world, bespoke marketing is one of the cornerstones of great customer service. Without it, you might find your clients begin visiting next door for a second dinner.

If you’d like to make sure your cats – sorry, clients and customers – don’t move in with the neighbours, we’re here to keep your marketing consistent and relevant.

Reach us at or call 0115 8965 300.

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