My Customer Service Hero


“I have a home because of you.”  

Those were the words spoken to me today by Bill – the copy guy at my local Staples office supply store.  Bill gets customer service.  It was clear he understood that his service results in repeat business —AND in his having a job and a home.  Bill says he gives great customer service and he does.

I didn’t always use Staples – I used a nearby competitor who shall remain nameless.  I put up with poor customer service because it was convenient – until the manager tried to blame me for the store’s mistake.  I had purchased a bulk supply of ink for my printer. One cartridge was bad, and when I went to return it, the assistant manager told me I it was my fault for buying in bulk because they had a 30 day return policy.

I walked across the street to Staples and met Bill – the copy guy.  He is always smiling, always helpful, always greets me by name, and always does a great job on any project I bring him.  Bill is this month’s integrity hero – he does what he says he will do. 

Who is your customer service integrity  hero?

Leaders Should Play “What If” in Corporate America


HP CEO Mark Hurd has been fired for ethical violations.  I’m, quite frankly, surprised and impressed.  I’m surprised that the board chose to release a highly successful CEO and impressed that they made the hard call to do so.  Once trust has been breached, it takes a long time to regain. 

Mr. Hurd, and any leader in an organization, need to learn to play “What If”.   Each of us has an Achilles Heel in our lives – that thing that tempts us and has the capacity to bring us down.  It may be sex, greed, power, pride – but whatever it is it’s important to identify it and then to ask the question:  What if… my Achilles Heel ends up in the headlines?

Mark Hurd:  HP Chief Quits in scandal (WSJ)

Eliot Spitzer:  Mr. Clean Caught in Sex Scandal  (USA Today)

Steve McNair: Jealous Kazemi shot Steve McNair while He Slept (Tennessean)

Charles Rangel:  Charles Rangel Charged with Ethics Violations (USA Today)

So here’s my call to action:  Write the headline that would appear in the paper or online if your Achilles heel caused you to stumble.

How to Feed Your Employees

If you don’t feed your employees, they’ll eat your customers.  This was a lesson I learned early in my career, and I became a huge advocate of the “Southwest Airlines” philosophy of employees first!  Linda Stone, owner of the Puffy Muffin, is a wonderful example of a business owner who has the same concept.  The Puffy Muffin is a favorite gathering place here in Brentwood, TN for breakfast and lunch – and a wonderful bakery. The recession of 2008 and 2009 provided a tough challenge for Linda and the employees, so last September at a staff retreat, Linda revealed some aggressive goals for them to achieve over the next 10 months.  The reward if the sales goals were met?  – an Alaskan cruise.  So this month, 48 employees will be enjoy the beauty of snow capped mountains, tall pines and icebergs from the railing of the best ship in the fleet.  Linda said,  “They serve others so well all year long, it’s time they were the ones to receive some service.”  She’s closing the restaurant for 10 days to celebrate with her staff.

 It’s a lesson in integrity – doing what you say you will do.  I once worked for an employer who held an annual picnic to celebrate the accomplishments of the staff – but they were unwilling to close their facilities for a couple of hours in order to let everyone attend.  They said they were about employees first, but their actions didn’t match their words.  Linda Stone gets it – and she’s a super hero for integrity!

Who is your super-hero?