Are You Serving Others or Yourself with Your Business?


When you get down to the core of your business, do you prioritize serving others or serving yourself?

This is a big question for business owners to grapple with, and it can be a challenging one because, of course, businesses need to make a profit to exist. And there certainly is a time and place to focus on sales and how your business serves you. However, the idea of whether your brand is customer-centric or self-centric is a crucial one to examine. 

We all know from being on the customer side of the equation that people can tell when businesses are serving others first in their actions and when they are serving themselves.

A perfect example of this was in October 2021 when Facebook and Instagram went down for around 6 hours. I’m sure you remember because, honestly, it seemed like the world imploded.

I will say that there was an air of comedy to the fiasco because it highlighted how intensely dependent some people are on social media from a daily/personal perspective. However, for many digital business owners, it was legitimately scary and stressful. And understandably so.

Back to my story…

On that day and the days immediately after, I received emails from six businesses in the digital space who were leveraging the Facebook/Instagram outage and taking that opportunity to use it as a touchpoint with their audience. 

Of the six businesses that reached out, there was only one that was doing it as a way of serving others in their online community. The other five businesses sent completely self-serving emails. 

The customer-centric email was focused on comfort, reassurance, and sharing helpful insights. It acknowledged that, for online business owners, the outage was probably a bit scary. This could have been because your business marketing relies on social ads to drive traffic, or because the outage brought up fears that this could happen again and possibly last longer. Or maybe both.

The email was extremely well written and all about serving others. There wasn’t a trace of sales in the email or an offer pointing people to a checkout page. It was completely customer-centric.

In contrast, the other five emails I received from businesses were all leveraging the outage as a way to scare people into buying their products or services. They were written to cause their readers to be even more concerned about possible future data breaches and to prompt people to invest in things like a funnel program so they wouldn’t have to depend on Facebook ads anymore. 

Truthfully, it was ridiculous how self-serving the emails were, and I even went as far as to unsubscribe from four of them because of it.

In a moment when many digital business owners were understandably overwhelmed and worried, these brands showed their true colors by being self-centric rather than customer-centric. They chose to leverage the incident as a sales opportunity rather than choosing to act in service of others.

Don’t get me wrong here — I’m not saying that being customer-centric doesn’t include selling. You can definitely do both… It’s a matter of approach though. The five emails I’m referencing went straight for the jugular. They purposely intensified the readers’ fears to convince them they needed to purchase what they were offering. It was a blatant use of scare-tactics and fear mongering. 

These kinds of actions are not ones that people forget in their customer experience.

On the flip side, instead of taking such an extreme and selfishly motivated approach, they could have repositioned their email to be focused on offering assurance and comfort….AND then, in connection to that message, offered them the opportunity to make a supporting purchase. 

Yes, the email still would have been leveraging an opportunity to promote sales but it would have been from a position of support and understanding rather than one of manipulation. There’s a big difference between putting people first vs. putting sales first. 

The one business that sent an email offering comfort, knowledge, and empathy has likely gained me as a lifetime follower because of how beautifully they showed up for their audience. The way they chose serving others over serving themselves speaks volumes about the way I know they will treat me in the future.

The one other business that I chose not to unsubscribe from, I’ve seen a much better customer experience from in the past. And because I believe in them enough, I have to think it was just poor judgment in this one moment.

Whether you are serving others or serving yourself with your business, people are going to know. They may not see it right away, but it will come out, and it can be a make or break for your brand and its customer experience. 

Why?

Because people want to align themselves with people and brands who make them feel good — who are customer-centric and offer support and empathy. They want to work with businesses that are serving others and not simply taking advantage of a situation to manipulate their audience and make more money.

In business, there is obviously a time and place to share your offers and make sales — you’re running a business, after all, right? You have to make money to sustain your business and support your life. But this can be done in a customer-centric way. 

One way to approach this is as you sit down to write an email or post an offer on social media, ask yourself, “Does this truly serve my people and what they need, or am I more focused on satisfying my own need at this time?”.

If you can call yourself out when you’re acting out of personal motivation (vs. being of service), you’ll give yourself the opportunity to re-engineer your perspective and messaging to be service-focused before you hit the send button. 

Bottom Line:
Ultimately, if you are choosing to put others first and add value to their lives whenver possible, you will create loyal, raving fans who can’t wait to do business with you again and again.