The Timeless Power of Old-Fashioned Customer Service: A Mission-Led Business Perspective

Author: Darren Chalmers-Stevens, Group Chief Operating Officer & Managing Director EMEA/APAC

The essence of customer service has been overshadowed by bottom-line thinking in today’s business world which often prioritizes quick profits and cost-cutting measures. With parents and grandparents both from service sectors, I’ve only ever known one way of operating, which has heavily influenced me and my leadership style. At SafeZone by CriticalArc, we pride ourselves on investing heavily in customer service.

Relationship Selling: Building Trust and Loyalty

Relationship and consultative selling is at the heart of our business model. Unlike transactional selling, where the focus is solely on closing the deal, relationship selling emphasizes building long-term connections with customers. This method involves understanding their needs, preferences, and aspirations. By fostering trust and loyalty, we not only secure repeat long-term business but also benefit from word-of-mouth referrals.

Our commitment to investing in our customer relationship doesn’t stop once the contract is signed. We continue heavily investing in our customer relationships and our product innovation which has resulted in a staggering 99% retention rate over the past decade. This success speaks volumes about the enduring value of personal connections in business. In an era where customers are bombarded with impersonal marketing messages, our approach stands out as a refreshing alternative.

The Importance of Listening

Listening to our customers is not just a courtesy; it’s a strategic imperative. Through regular interactions, surveys, and feedback channels, we stay attuned to their evolving needs and challenges. This feedback loop informs our product development process, ensuring our offerings remain relevant and valuable.

For example, a customer might suggest a minor tweak to a product feature that significantly enhances its usability. By acting on such insights, we demonstrate that we value their input and are committed to continuous improvement.

Our customer success team also meets with our customers quarterly, evaluating their use of our platform and providing them valuable insights into their operational use. These meetings highlight areas for improvement, offer comparisons to similar-sized organizations, and identify opportunities to learn from others. We discuss new features and how they can be applied to our customers’ environments to solve specific high-value use cases.

In addition, we run our annual SafeZone End User Conferences in each of our regions. These events bring together hundreds of users to share their experiences with SafeZone and to discuss current local and global safety, security, and well-being challenges. Attendees often share specific insights or expertise in addressing topical issues. Half a day is spent purely on our product roadmap, gathering input from our community, which influences up to 60% of our future roadmap. We also celebrate our customers with awards recognizing the amazing work individuals and organizations do to keep their communities safe with SafeZone. This holistic approach to listening ensures that we remain closely connected to our users’ needs and continue to evolve in ways that genuinely benefit them.

Thinking About Customers as Individuals

As data and automation take the lead, it’s easy to forget the importance of the human element in business. Our business, however, believes in treating customers as individuals. This means recognizing their unique circumstances, preferences, and histories with our company.

Personalized service goes beyond addressing customers by their names. It involves understanding their past interactions, anticipating their needs, and providing tailored solutions. This level of personalization fosters deeper connections and sets us apart from competitors who adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.

The Cost of Prioritizing Profits Over People

Many businesses today are run by accountants focused solely on maximizing profits. While financial health is crucial, an overemphasis on the bottom line can erode the very foundations of a company’s success. Cutting corners on customer service, for instance, might yield short-term gains but often leads to long-term losses in customer loyalty and brand reputation.

The relentless pursuit of profits can also stifle innovation. When companies prioritize cost-cutting over customer feedback, they miss out on valuable insights that could drive product enhancements and market differentiation. In contrast, our investment in customer service fuels our growth and helps us maintain a competitive edge.


Being a mission-led business that invests in customer service is not just a nostalgic ideal but a strategic advantage. Relationship selling, listening to customers, and viewing them as individuals form the core of our success. While many businesses succumb to the pressures of profit maximization and let accountants dictate their operations, we stand firm in our belief that customer-centricity is the key to sustainable growth.

As we move forward and expand around the world, we will continue to champion these principles, proving that businesses can thrive by staying true to values that prioritize people over profits. In doing so, we aim to inspire a new generation of businesses to reimagine their approach to customer service, ensuring that the timeless art of building relationships remains at the forefront of commercial success.


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