leadership dot #2934: elevate

A colleague shared a memory of her time as a tourist going to the top of the Empire State Building. (Can you even remember when we used to do things like that?) The observation deck is on the 78th floor and the elevator ride can prove to be a bit nerve-racking and ear-popping for some guests.

To combat this, the tour operators devised a way to divert people’s attention and equipped the top of the elevator car with a computer screen. On the way up, riders watch an animation of the building being constructed, and on the way down the building’s Art Deco logo morphs into a U.S. map. The ride only takes 30-45 seconds but with this forethought, it becomes a memorable and enjoyable experience for the tourists rather than one filled with angst.

Put yourself in the shoes (or the elevator) of those using your service. How can you eliminate some discomfort or increase the pleasure – or in the case of the Empire State Building – achieve both simultaneously? There are ways to wow all around you if you elevate your thinking toward that goal.

Thanks, Emily!

“Going up” movie on the building’s construction


leadership dot #2920: hold

I received a notice from the library that the book I requested was in – but that it was quarantined for three days and I couldn’t get it until Monday. I wish I didn’t know that it was there! Now, all weekend when I’m out in the sun, I’ll be wishing that I had that book I’ve been wanting to read that is just sitting there in the library “de-germifying.”

I’m not questioning their decision to be on the safe side and quarantine it – but I can’t understand at all why they notified me before it was ready. It feels like a “Nah, Nah, Nah” from my childhood days – taunting someone with an item they want that you won’t let them have.

This pandemic is hard enough on everyone but as businesses and services begin to reopen, let’s not lose sight of operating from the customer’s perspective. Good service – as defined by the customer — is still the goal.

leadership dot #2908: promises

At long last, I was able to take my very dirty dogs to a grooming appointment. The groomer said: “Oh, it shouldn’t be long for just a bath.” As a result, I opted not to go home, expecting a phone call in about an hour or so. Two and a half hours later, I went back in only to learn that one dog was still wet and had not yet been trimmed!

That same day, I received a package in the mail. This was an item that was originally billed as “two-day shipping” and it actually took four, but they told me that it would take five days so I was actually excited that it came “early.”

It’s all about the expectations. Had my groomer said: “See you in three hours,” I would have gone home, gotten work accomplished and been fine with it. As it was, my interpretation of “not long” caused me to be furious about the whole situation. Never mind how clean the dogs were – it was a bad experience.

Contrast that with a company who took twice as long as normal to ship an item, but made me happy about it because they set my expectations for it to be even longer. It’s much better than other retailers who have taken longer to ship things, did not pre-warn me about delays, and then tried to mollify the situation by offering a coupon with the late delivery. It doesn’t work that way.

People can tolerate a lot of things – if their expectations are aligned with reality. It’s part of what makes COVID harder – original expectations were for a few weeks or maybe a month, but never through all of 2020.

Give great care to the expectations you set – whether stated or implicit. You can delight people but only if you manage promises carefully so you are able to deliver more than people expect.

leadership dot #2899: bean

There have been many great memes and funny stories during this pandemic but one that made me laugh out loud was the report by a shopper who received one green been with her online grocery order. One. For the cost of two cents.

On the website, customers order beans by the pound and so an order was placed for 1 lb. The store shopper saw the “1” and, well, went no further. I’m sure they got a good laugh from the order as well.

I could write that you need to test your systems, ensuring that the “pound” delineation on the website transfers over to your remote fulfillment tool, or that you need to train your employees to question seemingly irrational purchases, or that you need to have periodic quality checks to match the order with the delivery. All those things are true.

You can’t anticipate everything. So, collect the feedback on the order (which she so clearly provides) and have a regular process to address these kinds of situations after the fact. Better to have only one customer with a “sad, lonely green bean in a large produce bag” than to make it the norm.

Thanks, Jennifer!

leadership dot #2864: for anything

How do you enhance your customer service game when your responsiveness is already legendary? Well, if you’re Zappos you morph your call center into “Customer Service for Anything” and encourage people to call you – for, well, anything as their ad proclaims:


“Have you called our Customer Service Anything line yet? Because we’re still here for you, 24/7, for whatever you need. Whether it’s help finding a new recipe, a new series to binge, or a suggestion for entertaining your kiddos, give us a call. We’re waiting to hear from you – no purchase necessary.”


I’ll bet they have stories to share of the requests they receive – making the work more enjoyable for those performing it and building brand loyalty during a downturn in business. It is a brilliant adaptation of resources as well as a fun marketing gimmick.


Maybe they can help you brainstorm ways to tailor your organization’s resources to this crazy set of circumstances.

Text: 833-927-7898

Call: 800-927-7671 x3


leadership dot #2826: outsource

I am having phone troubles so I went to Sam’s Club to take advantage of the rebate that they feature prominently in their sale flyer. The big display of phones is practically the first thing you see when you walk in but I had to ask that someone be called to help me.

When that assistance came, he told me that “it’s not Sam’s” that runs this department and that no one working could help me! I should come back tomorrow after 3pm! The person at the service desk said that same thing: “That’s not ours.”

Why, yes – it is yours. Maybe on some legal agreement there is a distinction, but for the customer the merchandise display in your store and in your flyer is yours.

It may have sounded like a good business decision to outsource a function, but when that department is front-facing you can never outsource your responsibility. Their service, pricing, and availability all reflect on you and in the end become a black mark on your business when done so poorly.

It would be great if you could just collect the rent and absolve yourselves of any role for how an outsourced function is handled, but it doesn’t work that way. You can subcontract the products, but the onus remains with you for the service.


leadership dot #2817: 24 hours

One of the Big Box stores promotes itself as being open 24 hours, leaving you to infer that it means the whole store is available to shoppers. This would be a myth.

The pharmacy and deli are closed. Ditto for the bottle redemption center. There were no “human” cashiers; only self-service. And most annoying of all, customer service closed at 10pm so there was no way to do the return that was the reason for our trip.

To them, each of these areas is its own little fiefdom with separate rules for the different kingdoms. To me, it is all part of one store and, if the store is open 24 hours, that means the whole store should be.

Take a look around your organization from the customer point of view. Do you function like the 24-hour store where parts of your organization do things differently than others and aggravate customers who don’t see the pieces as being separate? Do you provide what is convenient for the customer, even if it’s inconvenient for some of the staff? Or do you provide excuses for why something is not instead of taking ownership of the process as a whole?

If you promote 24-hour service, deliver it — or stop claiming you do.


leadership dot #2794: rush job

People frequently ask their printer to rush jobs for them – needing the finished product ASAP or requesting special consideration to get the project printed on a short timeline. One printer capitalized on this phenomenon and made it their business model: promising four-color printing within tight deadlines.

Fresh Color Press is “the home of superb fast-turn, short-run digital collateral printing.” Translated, that means that they expect you to need your print job on a tight timeline, and are set up to anticipate it and accommodate you with a smile. Instead of being made to feel like the printer is doing you a big favor to process your job under an impossible timeline, Fresh Color replies with “no worries, we can still easily get them done.” Even their shipping labels say: “We get it. We’ve got this.” And they do!

Fresh Color is a living example of the high-end firm doing well (see dot 2769). They cost more than the average printer, but their quick service is priceless.

Think about what your clients really want from you. What do people ask for that you aren’t set up to provide? What causes you inconvenience but people frequently request it? What would you like from others who provide what you do? Maybe there is a niche waiting for you to leverage.



leadership dot #2778: while you wait

I’ve been paying attention to the waiting experience lately – what organizations do or don’t do to attend to their clients before they actually receive a service.

Restaurants often address the wait because it is implicit in how the model works that you are going to have to wait while they prepare your food. As a result, they serve you peanuts, bread, or hot rolls to mollify your hunger. It seems that waiting is inevitable at doctors’ offices, so there are usually magazines to make the time seem to pass more quickly, and many businesses now offer wi-fi as a way for you to self-entertain while waiting.

But often the standard methods that attempt to satisfy or divert you apply only for the in-person wait. The dog-DNA-testing site Wisdom Health changed that by providing reassurance, information, fun while you wait for your results. Their email:

Good news! Joan’s DNA sample has arrived safe and sound at our lab and is ready to be processed and tested. The first thing we’ll do is extract and clean Joan’s DNA. Once we have the pure DNA, we’ll place it on a special laboratory chip so it can be genotyped. That’s when we’ll analyze the sample for the 1800+ genetic markers that are used in our tests. The whole process will take about 2-3 weeks from today.

In the meantime, for a little fun, you can head over to the Learning Lab and take our Mixed Breed Quiz. You’ll find out just how sharp your breed identification skills are and see how your score stacks up against others.

 Don’t wait to start providing excellent customer care. Pay attention to those who wait for you – in whatever form that may take. You may create a loyal customer by how well you treat them before you ever provide your service.

Thanks, Meg!

leadership dot #2762: precise

I understand the volatility of weather patterns and the difficulty in predicting specific outcomes. What I don’t understand are the inconsistencies within the same app forecasting for the same time period. For example, in the “daily forecast” the app showed a high of 50 degrees, but in the “hourly” predictions, 48 was the warmest it would get. I realize there is little difference in two degrees, but the lack of internal integrity calls the whole forecast into question for me.

Think about your organization and whether your employees act in the same manner as the weather app. Do your customers receive different answers depending upon who they ask? Do you provide updated information to your front line so that facts can remain current and accurate? Is there a process to monitor and evaluate the replies that are given?

Maybe the variances are minor but there should be certain responses that are consistent throughout. Strengthen your communication with internal alignment and practiced precision about the numbers that matter.