Customer Service Articles by Robert Stevenson

Customer Service Articles By Robert Stevenson




  1. Astonish Me
  2. How Will Then Remember you?
  1. I Just Need One Person
  1. A Culture of Ownership
  1. One Chance
  1. The Power of Delightful
  1. What Are You Promising Them?
  1. Solve It by Sundown
  1. The Numbers Tell the Story
  1. Be a Shining Example
  1. Passion is Powerful
  1. Let’s Goggle’em
  1. Cows, Magnets & Icebergs
  1. Treat’em All Special



There are a few companies out there in the world today who have learned to raise the bar past WELL DONE, past REALLY WELL DONE, and even past the highly impressive accolades of GREAT or WOW. These companies have taken it upon themselves to totally differentiate their organization from their competition by going above and beyond what a typical customer might expect as excellent service.

These few companies have decided, when at all possible, to ASTONISH their customers. They have looked at all the “customer service” statistics and data and taken it upon themselves to keep getting better and better and do things that will impress and amaze their customers. Why should any company go to such lengths to do such a thing? Well, one thing you might want to consider is that statistics show loyal customers are, on average, worth 10 times as much as their first purchase.

They have also found that in 2012 only 37% of the companies in the U.S. earned a “good experience” index rating and only 8% earned a “superior” rating.

Is it possible to get better every year? I think so. Let me give you a surprising example of getting better. In the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the winning time for the 100 meters was 9.87 seconds. In the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the winning time was 9.85 seconds. In the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the winning time was 9.69 seconds … and in the 2012 Olympics in London, the winning time was 9.63 seconds. That is four Olympics in a row where these incredible athletes found a way to improve upon the winning time.

A couple of weekends ago I was catching up on my personal “Things to Do List” and was blown away at what happened. My wife has an OtterBox Defender for her iPhone that was looking very worn. We went into a store to try and buy a new outside “Skin” and were told they didn’t sell them

… no one did. BUT, the young man said you could go to the OtterBox website and in just a couple of “EASY” steps, they would walk you through how you can get a brand new skin, totally free, if yours has worn out. Yeah Right … easy steps … totally free … that will be the day.

Well it was easy, it was free and get this – I sent in my e-mail on Sunday afternoon and received a response from OtterBox the same day. On Monday morning, they shipped my replacement request. They weren’t making a dime on my order. In fact, my service request was a cost to them, not revenue … but in less than 18 hours they had shipped it. Who are these folks? Welcome to ASTONISHING.

We are getting ready to replace our iPhones with an updated version and guess what protective case will be on all of them? OTTERBOX, without question. They stand behind their brand and their customer service is ASTONISHING. If you want to beat your competition and be assured you will always have repeat customers, start figuring out how you can ASTONISH your customers. There is always room to improve if you set your mind to it.

Also, strive to do the same yourself. If you want to advance your career think of ways you can ASTONISH your peers, associates and boss and watch your career flourish! Doing more than expected every time is a great way to start.



2 – How Will They Remember You?


“Why are you calling this department?” I didn’t call your department … I was transferred to you by someone else in your company who said you could help me.” “Well they were wrong. You shouldn’t have called me.” “I didn’t call you.” “You will need to call back and ask for the small group administrator for Florida.” “Do you have their direct line?” “No.”

And so it went for the next 75 minutes. I had what I thought was a simple question and I was transferred 7 times, discounted twice, and placed on hold several times where no one ever picked up again. I dialed and redialed several times and navigated through countless voice-activated voice answering systems, along with having to listen over and over again to … “press 1 for this department, press 2 for that department, press 3 for another department, etc. One time they had 7 choices, none of which were what I was looking for.

I wasn’t a mad, complaining, out of control customer who no one would want to talk to. No, I was just a confused customer who had received my corporate health insurance cards for my company, before I ever received notice that my company health insurance policy had been renewed for the next year. I had not received the renewal policy, I didn’t know what changes had been made to my coverage, and I sure didn’t know what my premium was going to be for the next year … but I had my insurance cards. (That seems a little bit backwards to me) If it was that hard to find out the answer to one simple question, I wonder how hard it will be if I ever have a question about a claim? How will I remember my current health insurance company … not favorably.

This week I was at an extremely nice hotel and called down to room service to order dinner. It was 7:15 p.m. and the operator told me they were on break. I was confused when the operator told me that. I had no idea what she meant … it just didn’t compute. “What do you mean they are on break? It’s dinner time. Why would they be on break? ” “I am sorry sir, but they will be on break until 7:30, so you can call back then to order dinner.” In my mind I was thinking …You’ve got to be kidding me, right? A hotel of this size and status would never take a break at dinner time and not be available to take my order. People fly in here from all over the country from different time-zones and would want to eat on their “time clock”. Then I asked one more time, “Room service is really on break?” “They sure are. That is the way we do it at our hotel.” It then took 1 hour and 10 minutes to receive my order, which also happened to be wrong. How will I remember the hotel … not favorably.

In this time of heavy competition and global communication that instantly allows people to share their opinions world-wide with the click of a button …I would suggest it be PRIORITY #1 in any company to figure out what your customers want, need, desire and expect. If your competition is offering it and you aren’t, then you might want to rethink that. Define how you want your company to be remembered in the “Eyes of Your Customer.” Make sure everyone in your company knows what that “definition is” and strives to do everything they can to make it happen. How customers remember you has everything to do with what they are going to be saying about you.

The day you forget you are in business for the customer, is the day you start going out of business. How will you customers remember you?


3 – I Just Need One Person


You may have … a big company … an incredibly sophisticated website … hundreds of locations … a huge advertising budget … thousands of employees … a phenomenal IT department … an impressive Board of Directors …

But do you have … one person I can talk to on the phone, one person who can help me, one person who speaks my language fluently, one person who has some authority, one person who listens well, one person who follows up after my call, one person who can help me ?

Or do you have a system that … puts me on hold for an extended length of time, has 2, 3, 4 verbal menus to navigate, never has a human answer the phone, makes it difficult to call your company, takes days or weeks to respond, frustrates, disappoints, exasperates customers ?

I called Prudential Life Insurance yesterday to get some information on a few annuities I have with them. Within minutes I was speaking to a highly competent person, who seemed happy to help me, who spoke excellent English, who listened attentively, never interrupted me, and answered “ALL” my questions. They even made a suggestion that would help me out later and instantly sent the form I needed. Let’s just say I was extremely impressed and they didn’t ask me to take a survey after the call. Just one person made it all happen.

I called my bank yesterday on an issue with one of my accounts. The person I wanted to talk to was out so I was sent to another person who was on the phone. I had to leave a message on their voice mail system. Two hours passed with no response. I called again and still couldn’t get anyone to help. I called a third time hoping I would reach them but they were still busy. I called another location and did reach someone who figured out what had happened to my account, but told me it had to be resolved at the branch where I had my accounts. I called a fourth time and asked for the branch manager, but they were busy too, so I left another message. I even went on-line on their very fancy website and left a very unflattering e-mail. I started this yesterday at 9:30 am and twenty-eight hours later I have heard nothing. All I wanted was to speak to just one person who could help me.


By the way, within 100 yards of their location are three other major banks.


If you want to find out how good your company is, call it with a problem. See how long it takes to get it resolved, how many messages you have to leave, how many menus you have to navigate to get to the one person who can help. Have your senior management team do it every week. Get them living the real experiences your customers are living and let your Customer Service People know that they are being called all the time by people who are checking up on them. In today’s poor economy, with cut-throat competition, you can’t afford to push your customers away because they can’t reach just one person.


Prudential gets it … does your company GET IT ?


4 – A Culture of Ownership


I have a client who is an extremely large freight company with an amazing delivery-on-time ratio of over 99%. But, it is not just getting the merchandise there on time that makes them so good, it’s getting it there on time and undamaged. They concentrate on getting their people to think like an owner, to try and recognize problems and take ownership of the problem rather than leave the problem for someone else to fix. (In most cases, fixing a problem after-the-fact, costs more and results in a seriously upset customer.)

So, they have instilled a Culture of Ownership throughout their organization by showing their people how and when ownership of a problem should take place and the costs associated with no one doing so. They put together a short film for a training conference as a case study, using an actual client event. This “event” could have been corrected countless times had anyone taken ownership; but no one did. Here is a quick look at what the film identified.

The freight company’s salesperson finally convinced the client, who manufactured golf carts, to give them a try at shipping their carts around the country; an order for three truck loads. Did the salesperson go check how the golf carts were packaged? No. He just turned in the order to operations and moved on to the next customer.

Operations sent over three trucks to pick up the golf carts. Did those three drivers check to make sure the golf carts were packaged correctly so they wouldn’t get damaged in transit? No. They just loaded up the golf carts and took them back to the main terminal. Then they proceeded to off-load the golf carts, so they could be placed on individual trucks to be shipped out the next day.

Did anyone in the terminal (over a hundred people), who walked by the golf carts while they were sitting on the terminal floor, recognize that they were packaged incorrectly and would easily be damaged in transit? No.

Not one person took ownership of the problem. No one was looking out for the company or for that matter the customer. Did the golf carts arrive safely? No. Every one of them was damaged. Did the freight company pay the claim? YES! If one person had taken ownership, thousands of dollars would have been saved, along with keeping a HAPPY customer.

If your company is going to be successful you need to get your people thinking like an owner; taking ownership of any issue that could negatively affect your company or the customer. The short film by the freight company said it all …

Create a Culture of Ownership and watch your profits SOAR!




You spend lots of money on advertising for customers, training employees how to politely deal with customers, delivering the best product or service possible and then somewhere along the process of dealing with the customer “SOMEONE” drops the ball. Someone has a bad day, or gets frustrated, or is too busy, or thinks that’s not their job, or they treat the customer rudely, impolitely, disrespectfully or just have a PERSNICKETY attitude and you LOSE a customer.

But hey, it was only one customer; no big deal. REALLY? In today’s social media world, it is never just one customer. Customers now have the opportunity to spread the word with just one click on a computer or phone and BAM … the story of bad, terrible, awful service is out. (Bad news travels fast)

Henry Ford said, “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” That statement needs to be pervasive throughout your organization; every employee needs to understand where their paycheck comes from. The moment an employee has any form of interaction with a customer a BELL needs to go off in their head, reminding them of the critical importance of what is about to take place. The customer has made a decision to do business with you at this moment … how “they/you” do, will determine if the customer will do business with your firm again.

It has been said that opportunity never knocks twice at any person’s door. So, you must always take advantage of your first opportunity and deliver. It is not just in customer service that Persnickety, Rude, Impolite, or Disrespectful attitudes can hurt you. Many a career/relationship has been delayed, altered or destroyed by a bad attitude.

I try and look at every opportunity in business from a ONE CHANCE perspective. I have ONE CHANCE to do it right – ONE CHANCE to impress – ONE CHANCE to win them over – ONE CHANCE to deliver. May I suggest you make it a theme in your company to approach every opportunity, task, job, interaction or request from a ONE CHANCE perspective.


A good ending starts with a good beginning

so, make your first impression count.

You have only ONE CHANCE to do that.


6 – The Power of DELIGHTFUL


Norma Seymour is the Senior Vice President of Service Delivery for Cayman National, in the Cayman Islands. I love how descriptive her title is … Service Delivery. Ms. Seymour takes her job and title very seriously and does everything she can to help everyone in her organization deliver

As she puts it … “DELIGHTFUL” customer service. I have had the opportunity to work for Cayman National twice, and in my research preparing for my programs, I have witnessed first-hand, just how hard they work at delivering the best customer service in their industry. They know that great, exceptional, amazing, DELIGHTFUL customer service all starts and finishes with their people.

The financial services market is highly competitive and just as soon as a competitor comes up with a new product or service, everyone else will have it in short order. One out of five bank customers move their money every year because of poor customer service; not products, not location, not interest rates … just simply … poor customer service. To lose 20% of your business because of the way you treat customers is appalling. In some industries, that number is even higher. One study I read said 15% of customers left because of quality, 15% because of price, 20% because of lack of attention and 50% because “Contact” from personnel was poor. So, those numbers equate to 70% of the customers who left … did so because of the human side of doing business. OUCH!

Ms. Seymour asked me to address (via phone) Cayman National at a “Pep Rally” she was having for her staff and I was happy to oblige. I decided to weave my remarks around their goal of delivering DELIGHTFUL customer service. If you do a synonym check on the word DELIGHTFUL you will get words like agreeable, alluring, cheery, congenial, engaging, enjoyable, gratifying, pleasing, pleasurable, refreshing, and satisfying. Those are some pretty descriptive and admirable words to live up to in doing business with anyone. I challenged them at their “Pep Rally” with the following list of words … relating them with their DE-LIGHTFUL goal.


De liver………..              every time in everything you do

De monstrate…              great service along with a great attitude

De termined….              to be the best at what you do

De mand………               the very best of yourself

De velop………               great habits

De sire…………               to be the best

De feat…………               the competition with all of the above


Norma is a big fan of Tina Turner (me, too) and uses the song “You’re The Best” as her theme song to get everyone pumped up at all her meetings. Some of the lyrics in the song are incredibly powerful. “You’re simply the best, better than all the rest, better than anyone, anyone I’ve ever met.” Cayman National creates a culture that strives to be better than all the rest and it shows in everything they do.

Delight Your Customers in All That You Do

and Success Will Surely Follow You


7 – What are You Promising Them ?


I am finishing up writing my new book and in the meeting with the publishing company I encountered a rather profound question from their senior editor. We were discussing the book title, chapter arrangement and final content when she asked, “Rob, what are you promising the reader your book will do for them?” She went on to say that, “every page you write should deliver on that promise, therefore, everything should be predicated around what you are promising the reader.”

I believe her question is not only smart, powerful and insightful for writing a business book, but is also extremely applicable to trying to figure out how to be successful in business. Ask and Answer that question yourself about your company: “What are you promising the customer you will do for them?” Some corporate leaders might tell you they have “their promise” written in their vision, mission or values statement. Some companies may even carry it as far as trying to convey “their promise” in their advertising slogan. Examples:

  • Way back in 1952 KFC said their chicken was “Finger lickin’ good!” and they followed that slogan with “We do chicken right. But, just having great tasting chicken will not keep the customer coming back if the service is slow, attitudes are poor and the place looks dirty.
  • United Airlines wants us to believe that when you fly them all their people are going to be friendly because their slogan is: “Fly the friendly skies of United.” Trust me when I tell you, having flown millions of miles over the last 23 years traveling to speaking engagements, there are times that the word “friendly” never enters my mind when I fly United or numerous other airline carriers for that matter.
  • Disneyland says they are “The happiest place on earth.” Not only do I agree with that, I would add they are also an amazingly clean amusement park.
  • In 1962 Avis said, “We try harder,” trying to convince potential customers that they are working harder than Hertz, so they can take over for Hertz as the #1 car rental company. I get what they are trying to do, but they also just drew attention to the fact they aren’t #1 and lots of folks like to deal with the best.
  • FedEx gets it: They have a slogan … “When it Absolutely, Positively has to be there overnight,” and having worked for them numerous times, I can truly attest they are doing everything humanly possible to make sure that they live-up to that slogan.


A “Generation Y” (Millennial) might put it a different way: “What’s your deal, man?” Well, that’s my question to you: What is your deal? What is your promise? More importantly, does everyone in your company know that? You should consider what it is you really do and how you want to deliver that product or service. What is it that you value most? How do you want to be perceived by your customers? This “Promise” is the driving force behind all goals and the glue that unites your employees, keeping them focused on the performance they need to DELIVER EVERY TIME.

My flight attendant better be friendly, my truck better be built like a ROCK, my coffee better be good to the last drop, my sub sandwich better be fresh, you better let me have it my way, my soup better be M’m M’m good, that candy better melt in my mouth and not in my hand, that battery better keep going and going and going, and my watch better take a licking and keep on ticking. They said it on TV … they wrote it in ads

I heard it on the radio …THEY PROMISED! Remember what the senior editor told me, “every page needs to deliver on that promise.” In business, success comes to those companies who get their people to understand what they are PROMISING their customers and then deliver on that promise, so, “What’s your deal?” … “What’s your promise?”

Success Doesn’t Come from Good Intentions

Success Comes from Keeping Promises


8 – Solve It by Sundown


The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. This world-wide broadcasting system can disseminate information without regard to geographic locations at the speed of a “click,” and there lies a BIG PROBLEM.

The speed of a “click” has now conditioned us to how fast we expect things. If you want a book you just download it (CLICK). If you want a movie you just download it (CLICK). If you want a song you just download it (CLICK). If you want information about something you just go to Google, type in the info you need and CLICK. We are all being conditioned to getting INSTANT service and information. That being said, it should be no surprise to you that your customers are becoming more and more demanding at getting whatever they want … NOW!

Right now, there are some of you who have already received a few text messages while you are reading my article and people are expecting an instant response. There is no turning back or slowing down when it comes to technology; there is only speeding up and moving forward. Therefore, the companies that will succeed are doing everything they can to please their customers in a manner their customers expect … which happens to be … NOW!

I would, therefore, recommend a simple slogan, mantra, or motto for all employees of your company to live by … Solve “IT” by Sundown because if you don’t, you have just opened the door for your competitor to do so. I used to work with an IT company that sent out my weekly articles; if I ever had a problem with their service, their standard response was, “we will get back to you with a resolution in 72 hours.” The third time that happened I changed companies. My new IT company had me up and running in one hour and I have been working with them for years.

Anytime you push off a customer to fix something tomorrow (or in 72 hours), you are giving them the opportunity and incentive to go find someone who will be willing to fix the problem today. You customer is thinking, “If they can fix it tomorrow, then why can’t they can fix it today?” Now, sometimes you don’t have the part(s) or person available to fix it today and you tell the customer that. Well, my question to you is this: Does your competitor? Remember the internet: A few typing strokes and clicks on a computer and I will have a list of your competitors available to ask that question, and if they can fix it, YOU ARE GONE, FINISHED, TOAST.

The brilliant man Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I don’t believe Mr. Franklin ever envisioned The Internet, but he sure understood how to be successful. If you want to set your company apart from your competition, then I would do everything I could to establish a culture that understands …



9 – The Numbers Tell the Story


I have been doing some research on customer service and I thought I would share with you some interesting numbers I think every person in business should know. The statistics came from some very reputable organizations, who I have listed at the bottom of my article. I believe the statistics will both scare you and also identify opportunities for being able to take customers away from your competition.

  • 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.
  • On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
  • 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.
  • A typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers, so 96% of unhappy customers will go somewhere else and not let you know why.
  • 80% of Americans agree that smaller companies place a greater emphasis on customer service than large businesses.
  • Over 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week. Roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature.
  • In the last year, 67% of customers have hung up the phone out of frustration they could not talk to a real person.
  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
  • Almost 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.
  • Employees only ask for the customer’s name 21% of the time.
  • 80% of companies say they deliver “superior” customer service but only 8% of their customers think these same companies deliver “superior” customer service.

Lauren Freedman, President of the E-tailing Group once said, “Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price.” Even in this age of advanced technology and e-commerce, the human side of doing business with a customer is of paramount importance. This spells an enormous opportunity for all companies who want to enlarge their market share. Only one company can be the cheapest, all other companies have to do something else to attract customers, and as the numbers above so obviously point out, raising your level of customer service will greatly help you enhance your market share.

My favorite statistic of all of them is the last one: 80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer service, but only 8% of their customers say they do. (Ouch!) Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos astutely addressed the human side of doing business with customers when he said, “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”

If You Want to Increase Your Market Share

Raise Your Level of Customer Service

My thanks to the following companies/people for their helpful statistics: McKinsey & Company, The White House Office of Consumer Affairs, American Express, Harris Interactive, Bain & Company, Lee Resources, ContactPoint Client Research, the Touch Agency and Ruby Newell-Legner’s book “Understanding Customers”.


10 – Be a Shining Example


Yesterday, I was a witness to patience, kindness, fantastic customer service, and the power of the human spirit, on what should have been a seemingly mindless trip to the post office. I was on my way to get a haircut and I felt I had enough time to drop off my tax returns at the post office to get that ever important date stamped on each envelope.

I felt mid-afternoon would be a slow time at the Post Office and I was right. There was just one person at the counter, so this was going to be a quick in-and-out … or so I thought. The one person at the counter had to be over 90 years old. He was severely stooped over with his cane resting on the counter and appeared to have terribly bad vision. He only had a couple of things to mail and the postal employee, Anthony, processed them in his regularly speedy manner; then it was time for the elderly gentleman to pay.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out several packets of coins that had been wrapped in Kleenex tissue. He put them on the counter and started opening one at a time, waiting for Anthony to tell him how much more he needed, and then he would open up another folded tissue, and then another, each time spreading the coins on the counter and pushing them towards Anthony.

I don’t know why, but something came over me at that moment. I just became amazed at the kindness and patience Anthony was showing this gentleman and how he never once looked frustrated or annoyed with having to count out all the loose change scattered all over his counter. Then, with all his money on the counter, the man was three cents short.

Anthony, without hesitation, had already reached into a little glass of spare change and slid it on the counter and said, “Oh, here it is.” No dignity was lost. Anthony knew this old man took pride in paying his own way and doing for himself, and he was helping him every way he could. To top off everything I was witnessing, Anthony was smiling the entire time. Then, the elderly gentleman gathered up the tissue on the counter and put it in his pocket, thanked Anthony, and shuffled off.

I had several things to mail and it took a few minutes to handle all my transactions. When I left the building I noticed that the elderly gentleman was just making it across the street. What took me seconds to walk effortlessly, took him over 5 minutes … exerting all the power he had just to move his feet forward.

I believe that sometimes we encounter little messages (Shining Examples) that, if we pay attention to them, will help us all improve; but, we’ve got to pay attention to them. A “Shining Example” is a quality or achievement that is greatly admired. Anthony showed me a shining example of kindness, patience and incredible customer service. The elderly gentleman was a shining example of the power of the human spirit … and … also made me realize just how many things I take for granted.

Special, Exceptional, Extraordinary People

Set Shining Examples


11 – Passion is Powerful


A few months ago I had the pleasure of working with Germania Insurance (based in Texas) at their annual sales conference with all their independent agents attending. The night before, at dinner, I had the opportunity to talk to several of their agents. I was fortunate to sit at the table with Matt & Kara Sodolak. (Matt is the insurance agent, and his wife Kara is in banking) I use the word “fortunate” because, I was about to witness what I would best describe as TRUE PASSION for your profession.

I asked a question of Matt that I have asked countless times …“How do you like being in the insurance business?” His response surprised me. Without any hesitation he said, “I love it. It’s my job for life.In all my years of interviewing people, I have never had anyone say this is my “job for life.” The passion, sincerity and conviction in his voice just knocked me over. He sat forward in his chair and followed his statement with, “I love helping people and I get to do it every day.” There was NO DOUBT in my mind the passion Matt felt for his job, career and the company he worked for. I felt that anyone who had Matt as their agent was so fortunate. He never mentioned commissions … he talked the whole time about protecting his clients and how people counted on him to make sure they had the proper coverage in case something disastrous happened.

Unfortunately, something disastrous did happen; Texas has been slammed this year with enormous floods destroying millions of dollars in property and causing havoc to people’s lives. I heard from Matt last week and he shared a quick story about one of the people who works in their claims department. He wrote:


Rob, one of our most valued Customer Service Reps made a comment that made me think of your message and how you said, ‘you must make a commitment to your career to be successful’. She said, ‘being in the insurance business, all of our customers problems become our problems and we have to be here to help them through it that’s why they do business with us and that’s what keeps our lights on; you gotta love it or you are at the wrong place!

It doesn’t surprise me that anyone who works with Matt would also have a passion for their job; he would attract other people who would want to do, help and care for others. Let me share a few anonymous quotes with you about the Power of Passion:

  • Lack of PASSION is fatal.
  • Do it with PASSION or not at all.
  • Talent isn’t much without PASSION.
  • PASSION is the difference between having a job or having a career.
  • Purpose is the reason for the journey – PASSION is the fire that lights the way.

Maybe the one thing that is causing your career from not taking off … is that you aren’t looking at it as a career; it is simply a job to you and your customers, associates, managers and boss can sense that. There is always going to be frustration, toil, hassles, problems, glitches, hitches and difficulties in any job (that is why they call it work). But, if you look at it from a different perspective … that what you are doing is helping people in some way … then it all becomes worthwhile. Galileo, the great Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician, once said: Passion is the genesis of genius. So, let your passion become the start of something great for your career.

When there is Passion in your Purpose – you give Power to your Potential.


12 – Let’s Google’em

If all things were equal …

Would they pick your company to do business with?

Would your customers recommend your company to a friend?

Would the majority of your new business come from referrals?


Let’s get one thing straight … ALL THINGS AREN’T EQUAL. There are different levels of quality of products and different levels of customer service. Bain & Company (a top tier management consulting firm) did an extensive study of companies in America and found that the percentage of companies who believe their service level sets them apart from their competition was 80%. But, when Bain & Company reversed the tables on their research and went out and asked the clients of those companies what they thought about their service … just 8% of their customers believed the company actually exhibited a higher level of service than their competitor. 80% vs 8% … that difference is both profound and scary.

So, what should your company be working on? I would recommend you start looking at what causes such a vast gap between the perception of 80% versus the reality of 8%. A great place to look for answers to that question is on Google; that is where I start when I am preparing a program for my clients. I simply type in the Google search bar: “Complaints about XYZ Company” and start reading. A while back, the results for a financial organization I was working with had one Google reference listing 416 complaints. Ouch! Just recently I found these statements about a company I was working with:

  • They are the worst company to deal with.
  • They didn’t follow through on their promises.
  • They won’t return my calls or answer my emails.
  • The employee I worked with was rude, arrogant, and continuously misleading.
  • I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worst enemy or the devil himself.
  • Don’t do business with these idiots.

This company is a large organization with locations all over America … and these complaints stemmed from only a few under-performing offices. (but the consumer doesn’t know that) These comments could cause a client to not even call and give you a chance to do business with them … even though your other locations are getting nothing but praises from clients.

A resent Google study revealed that online reviews impact 67.7% of respondents’ purchasing decisions. When checking a company out, 50.4% of the people will just look at the first page on Google, 36% will read up to 3 pages, and 13.6% will read 4 pages or more. If you have four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results, you’re likely to lose 70% of potential customers.

The Power of Google What are your customers saying about you?


13 – Cows, Magnets & Icebergs


Cows will face directly North or South while eating. Utilizing satellite images pulled from Google Earth, a team of researchers found that cows always stood facing the magnetic poles within the Earth while eating or resting. Scientists have no idea why. And while I am on the subject of North and South, scientists understand how magnets work to a degree, but what they don’t understand is this: WHY do natural magnets ALWAYS have a North and South Pole? Further, no matter how many times you cut a magnet in half you will always get a magnet that has a north and south pole. Simply put, scientists have no idea why natural magnets have a North and South Pole. None!

Okay, we don’t know why cows and magnets do what they do, but we do know some of the reasons why customers react in certain ways … yet many companies seem to ignore these easily accessible facts. If you knew that 78% of customers bail on a transaction because of poor customer service would you change the way you are doing business? If you knew a typical business hears from only 4% of its dissatisfied customers, would that concern you? Tony Hsieh, former CEO of Zappos once stated: “Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.”

What sank the supposedly unsinkable ship, The Titanic, was the part of the iceberg below the surface. That is what sinks most companies … problems beneath the surface that they fail to address. Here are five “Customer Service Iceberg Issues” you need to pay attention to:

  • 3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.
  • 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.
  • 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience.
  • 67% of customers hang up the phone out of frustration because they could not talk to a real person.
  • Over 1 million people view tweets about customer service every week. Roughly 80% of those tweets are negative.

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times … “We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing unusually heavy call volumes. You can hold or try back at another time.” What that says to me is … we’re too cheap to hire enough people to service our customers properly. Or, how about this statement: “Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold.” If my call was really important to you, you would not make me hold. These two statements are enormous opportunities for your competitors. Consumers are now being given more and more alternatives of companies they can do business with and they are actively looking for companies who will TREAT THEM BETTER.

One sure way to help make sure your career or company is never sunk is follow the advice of General George Patton, former commander of the 7th Army during World War II, who once said; “Always do more than is required of you.” Here is a RULE to remember: The most effective tool for success is the “MORE”

Tool. Do more, be more, give more, and you will achieve more. There are no trophies, victories, or accolades given for adequate. A person/company who will do more than expected every time and do it with a smile on their face will find themselves in HIGH DEMAND.


14 – Treat’em All Special


Last week I did a program at a beautiful hotel where the customer service at the front desk was poor. I was thinking to myself how important it is to treat ALL customers with respect and efficiency. So, I did some research and came across some old notes of mine from years ago, finding a story that I thought was worth sharing with you on that subject. I must give one caveat about the story. This was before the arrival of the internet, where information is now so easily attainable.

A young woman worked for a large hotel chain and wanted to advance rapidly through the ranks. Through the rumor mill, she heard that the president of the chain was going to be a guest in her hotel and could possibly be checking in during her shift. She had no idea what he looked like (Remember – there was no internet to look him up) and she was extremely nervous and uptight, not wanting to do anything wrong while she waited on him. She asked other people in the hotel if they knew what he looked like and struck out there; none had ever seen him, but a few told her there were stories about him checking in under a factious name.

Not wanting to foul up when he checked in, she contemplated what she should do and devised a strategy that she felt would work. The next evening, she received a call from the president of the chain who said, “When I checked in yesterday you were so gracious, professional, and friendly. I want you to know that I am delighted to have you working for my company. You are an excellent addition to our staff and I see great things ahead for you.”

What’s interesting about the story is she never knew that he had checked in; he had registered under a factious name as he had done many times before. In fact, she thought he must not have ever shown up, because no one said anything. How did she do such a great job, not knowing who was the president? Her strategy saved her. She decided to treat everyone who checked in at her counter like they were the president, the most important person in her company. All day long she treated everyone SPECIAL. If the president was waiting in line, she wanted him to see how friendly and efficient she was to everyone … and if she did wait on the president, she would be doing the same for him.

What a great strategy, “Treat ‘Em “All” like they are important people. You can’t ever go wrong doing that. You never know who is watching you, grading you, or who has the ability to help advance your career. If you want to put your career on the fast track to success … treat everyone special … customers, associates, bosses … it shouldn’t matter.

I read a quote that stated, “From this point on I am going to treat people exactly how they treated me. Some should be glad, others should be scared.” Even though the quote makes me chuckle, it’s not going to help anyone succeed. I’ll leave you with this thought from Mary Kay Ash, who took a $5,000 investment and turned it into a giant company that now has more than 3 million consultants worldwide and wholesale volume in excess of $3 billion: “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.”