I received a kitchen towel as a hospitality gift and the whole hem frayed the first time I washed it. Fortunately, it was from Kohl’s – a store that highlights its generous return policy — so I took it back for an even exchange.

Much to my surprise, the customer service manager said: “Oh, they all do that. I bought some myself and they all frayed. We can return it once for you but that is all; there will be no receipt with this exchange.”

I was stunned. Essentially, they know they sell junk – for $8 — but they do it anyway. Without apology.

The bar for customer service is getting lower all the time — but you can do better. Just by having your employees practice the words: “I’m sorry” and insisting they say the phrase to customers when something goes awry can go a long way in making you a provider of choice.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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