Customer Service Is Like A Port-O-Potty

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During my first week on the job at FCR, I participated in a number of meetings to get to know my colleagues and the clients we serve. Many of the details of those discussions are foggy, however one comment has remained top of mind.  One of my colleagues made this comment:

Customer service is like the port-o-potties at an event.”

customer-service-portaAfter initially laughing, I then thought “wow, that’s really deep.”

Let’s think about the negative connotations associated with this analogy first.  Port-o-potties are:

  • Gross and stinky; rarely clean
  • Not the main attraction (Think football game)
  • Often abused
  • Left out long after the event ended
  • An after thought
  • Usually in short supply
  • Unappreciated
  • Forgotten
  • Having long lines

Wow!  That’s awfully depressing, isn’t it?  Many of us who have worked in customer service or have been a recipient of poor customer service can identify with some, if not all of these.  

I’m not sure this is a perfect analogy.  While I don’t necessarily believe customer service has to be the main attraction for most businesses, consistently carrying out the above list can definitely break a business.

So to see this analogy through to completion, let’s look at the positive connotations:

  • Cleaned often (think continuous improvement)
  • Essential and complementary to the main attraction
  • Durable and versatile
  • Keeping people at the event
  • Strategically placed
  • Carefully planned to meet demand
  • Oftentimes a welcome sight to a person in need of its services
  • Able to handle any crap people can dish out (I couldn’t resist)

I like that list much better.  As an avid runner, I can attest to the fact that the port-o-potties may be the single most important aspect of any race–other than the race.  For me, the race does not happen without them.  

Don’t get me wrong here.  I don’t by any stretch of the imagination liken my colleagues or the work they do to port-o-potties.  Far from it in fact.  At FCR, customer service IS the main attraction.  It’s more like the GoPro is to GoPro, or the football game is to the NFL, or the Double Double is to In-N-Out Burger.  If you are looking for a career where you can make a real difference in the lives of people using a product or service, where you are essential to an incredible customer experience, where your voice is heard and your opinion valued, and where your work is the lifeblood of our business, look no further.  

Ok, back to the port-o-potties for one last point.  It goes without saying that a great, well-placed port-o-potty leaves people much more satisfied when they exit than when they entered.  I’ve taken this analogy way too far – but extraordinary customer service has the exact same effect.

Jeremy Watkin
Head of Quality

Jeremy Watkin is the Head of Quality at FCR. He has more than 15 years of experience as a customer service professional.  He is also the co-founder and regular contributor on Communicate Better Blog.  Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership.  Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

3 Comments. Leave new

Customer Service Is Like A Port-O-Potty | Communicate Better Blog
11/18/2015 9:43 pm

[…] post was originally published on the FCR blog on November 11, 2015.  Click here to read the […]

Customer Service Is Like A Port-O-Potty | ContentMarketing
11/20/2015 12:49 pm

[…] post was originally published on the FCR blog on November 11, 2015. Click here to read the […]

Dude, How Do You Find Enough Stuff to Write About?
11/15/2016 2:07 pm

[…] opportunities unfolding right in front of you. Obscure analogies are fair game as well. I once compared customer service to a port-o-potty and so can […]


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