Leadership on Point

For Whom the Bell Tolls

June 6, 2011 Chip Bell - Guest Author

Great service can come from unique places.  I buy my night crawlers (worms) for fishing at Jerry’s Bait Shop…an antique, all-purpose country store.  Buying night crawlers involves several steps:  opening the refrigerator, taking out a Styrofoam cup of worms, pouring them into a large container to make certain they are all wiggling (therefore alive), replacing the worms in the cup, and purchasing the worms.  Anglers are right particular about their fish bait.  So, Jerry’s creates a service process that keeps his customers in complete control.

First, the refrigerator is right next to the fishing lures and hooks so customers there to buy hooks remember to get worms and vice versa.  Some establishments would separate these and keep them under control of management.  There is large note on the refrigerator door reminding customers to check the worms in the large funnel shaped bucket to check for wiggling.  And, when the cash register is involved, there is a checklist on the customer’s side—need a fishing license, cold drinks, cigarettes, etc.  The goal is clearly to help customers avoid getting in the middle of the lake only to discover a critical fishing item is missing.

Now, here is the best part!  Jerry’s is not just all-purpose—it is all-pleasure.  You can get the Wall Street Journal, not just the local gossip rag!  You can buy lottery tickets.  You can buy the typical beer and wine…but, Jerry has a few bottles of the pricey wine—for that special occasion when you forgot to pick up the really good stuff.  He has unexpected items like a flash drive, odd battery sizes, windshield wiper blades, or a wrench to remove a water filter.  If you need it on Sunday afternoon when every other store is closed, Jerry just might have it!   It’s a way of delivering a surprise to a customer who thought they were in big trouble!

Great service providers don’t just provide service convenience.  They insure customer-centric convenience.  They think about the moment-to-moment experience through the customer’s eyes and emotions.  What are you doing to take an empathy walk with your customers?  How can you make certain service delivery processes are crafting with the customer’s experience in mind?


Chip R. Bell is a customer loyalty consultant and the author (with John R. Patterson) of the best-selling new book, Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What To Do About it.  He can be reached at www.wiredanddangerous.com