How SEO is Like Customer Service

“We seek to WOW our customers.” – Zappos

When we hear of customer service, the big companies that come to mind are Zappos and Nordstrom. You might think that Zappos focuses on selling shoes, but the truth is that they’re well known because of their customer service. The main goal of these companies is to please their customers first. Just look at the extra lengths they go through to deliver an exceptional experience for people:

“We seek to WOW our customers.” – Zappos


When we hear of customer service, the big companies that come to mind are Zappos and Nordstrom. You might think that Zappos focuses on selling shoes, but the truth is that they’re well known because of their customer service. The main goal of these companies is to please their customers first. Just look at the extra lengths they go through to deliver an exceptional experience for people:

  • Zappos provides free shipping and free returns. Returns are valid for up to 365 days – no questions asked.
  • Zappos will even help you find the nearest pizza parlor if you asked. Talk about going beyond the line of duty.
  • Every now and then, Zappos will automatically upgrade customers to ‘surprise’ free overnight shipping
  • Nordstrom will iron your shirt if you need it for a meeting that afternoon.
  • Nordstrom will even write a personalized thank you letter and deliver it to you to make you feel like a million bucks.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way – customer service is paramount to any company. Companies that have exceptional customer service, like Zappos or Nordstrom, truly ride the wave of success because they’ve built up such a loyal following through all the amazing experiences they helped deliver.

But how does this all tie in with SEO?

Both SEO and customer service bear strikingingly similar traits. The only difference is the acceptance of outstanding customer service is more widespread because it has been around for much longer. SEO is still relatively new, but it’ll get there because the basic of premise of SEO makes sense: create helpful material for your audience and weave together a great experience and you’ll see a great ROI.

Here are 4 similarities between SEO and customer service:


1. It Takes Time To See a Great Return

Developing world class customer service doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. What’s great about excellent service is that if you are really good, people will naturally start to talk about you. Word of mouth will have a viral impact and pretty soon you’ll be overwhelmed with inbound leads. These are the people that want to buy from a company because they’ve heard so many incredible stories from brand advocates.

With SEO, it can take weeks or months to start seeing progress. Years if you want to see remarkable results. But guess what? If you’ve laid out a strong foundation and keep up the hard work, you’ll also see a great return with SEO in the form of organic traffic and sales.

Key takeaway: Like customer service, SEO is not a one-off deal. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Stick with it long enough and you’ll see some amazing results.

2. Consistent Excellence

Nordstrom didn’t become a #1 rated customer service company by just going with going through the motions, they kept their customers happy on a consistent basis. If you want to get to the top, you have to continually produce high quality work. Some days might be better than others, but no matter what, you need to strive for excellence.


With SEO, you can’t get lazy and decide to buy bulk forum links, article submissions, or directory submissions – that’s trying to take the easy way out. Besides, do you really want to risk seeing all of your websites burned down by Google?

Key takeaway: As cliche as it sounds, focus on creating quality, useful content for your audience while building strong relationships with people in your niche. Here are some great tools to get you started:

3. Be Remarkable

“How dare you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” – Seth Godin

Read the following heartwarming story just to see how remarkable the Zappos customer service team is:


My father’s caregiver broke down while placing an order two days after my father passed away. She apologized and explained what had just recently happened to my dad. The representative who took her order was kind enough to send a flower arrangement to my parent’s address with a card offering condolences. That was absolutely not expected and more appreciated than you will ever know. I work in a very popular restaurant in Palm Springs, CA and have repeated this story to my guests many times over. Thank you for putting your customers first. I, and many I know, will be long time customers oh Zappos.

Stories like that tell people around the world that this company isn’t just out there to sell you a pair of shoes. When you do something remarkable, people become so attached to your brand that they tell all their friends about you. Then they tell their friends and you gain more supporters.

With SEO, there are so many things you can do on a tactical level. Let’s say you are finishing up a blog post. Stop yourself for one second and ask yourself ‘is this blog post remarkable? would I share this on social networks?’ If the answer is no to any of these questions, then your work isn’t remarkable. Whether it’s personalized reach outs, guest blog posts, or other content creation, make sure you are giving it your all.

Key takeaway: you’re not always going to pump out viral material so don’t make that the goal. Instead, shoot for the stars and land on the moon so you can hold yourself to a certain standard of excellence.


Oh, and if you’re wondering how you can be remarkable, this Seth Godin post is a good place to start.

4. Build Relationships

It goes without saying that great customer service greatly increases the chances of converting someone into a lifetime customer. Gary Vaynerchuk, an online wine shop owner, closely followed one of his bigger customers over Twitter and happened to notice that they were a New York Jets fan. The customer tweeted in agony as his beloved Jets fell. Gary noticed this and shipped over an autographed Mark Sanchez Jersey to the customer (for those that don’t know, Mark Sanchez is the NYJ quarterback).

The customer phoned Gary and informed him that he would no longer be buying wine from any other store.

By taking converting the transaction into a relationship, Vaynerchuk got the gratification of satisfying a customer and a lifetime brand advocate.


If you’re building links for someone, take it one step further than that. Instead of focusing on link building, focus on how you can help other people first. Maybe you can point out a few errors on their sites or answer a question for them on Twitter. Now when you try to acquire a link, how much easier do you think it’ll be? It goes much further than that though. Maybe you might get a referral or two out of the relationship. Perhaps a guest blog opportunity on another blog.

All of these opportunities manifest because you’ve taken the relationship beyond a transactional level. Once you can do that, great things will happen.

One word of caution: you’re not always going to get something back for helping other people so it’s better to not expect anything. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Key takeaway. Build relationships with other people. Show them that you’re real. Besides, a relationship goes a heck of a lot further than a simple link



“Everyone is willing to win. Few are willing to prepare.” – Mark Cuban

Good customer service and good SEO is hard to come by because not many people are willing to put in the work. All it really comes down to is working harder than your competitors and caring about your customers so much that will ‘wow’ them. That’s why Zappos follows the mantra of delivering WOW through service.

What are some other similarities between SEO and customer service that I missed?


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