Recently here on Inc.com online clothing retailer ModCloth explained how they faced down their chaotic customer service situation with a handful of tech tools. Among the gadgets they used to bring order to their interactions with customers was cloud-based software called Zendesk.

Zendesk, it turns out, doesn't only help other companies achieve customer service greatness, it also strives to set an example in the area, focusing heavily on keeping customers happy itself, CEO Mikkel Svane explained recently to the American Express OPEN Forum blog.

In the course of the interesting interview, Svane lays out Zendesk's own customer service philosophy and challenges, and shares some of the wisdom the company has gathered talking to other firms about their customer service issues.

Amongst these insights: if your company-related resolution for 2013 is to finally nail kick butt customer service, be prepared for a tougher road than you might imagine – and more profound satisfaction if you succeed. Svane compares the effort to building up a fitness habit:

Most of our customers have realized that customer service is really, really hard. It’s hard to put together relationships when customers are in a lot of different regions and countries and time zones. You have treat each of them respectfully and try to make the best out of any situation. It’s not something you can go out and learn like studying for an exam.

I like to compare it to starting running. For most people, it’s not super pleasant getting up at 6 a.m. in the rain and running for 10 kilometers. But once you get into the rhythm and start enjoying it, you kind of get addicted to it and it becomes part of your DNA. 

What's the utility of the comparison between working out and pleasing customers for small business owners?

Expectations can be powerful.

If you foresee that your customer service improvement effort is going to be a breeze, than your resolve is more likely to crumble in the face of unexpected difficulties. But if you start out with the understanding that establishing great relationships with your customers is going to be a long and occasionally exhausting process, you're more likely to be in the head space you need to succeed in your efforts.

Check out more of Svane's insights in the complete interview.

Do you find Svane's comparison apt?