A Lesson In Respect – UnderhoodService
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A Lesson In Respect

From Both Sides of the Counter


Sometimes, the difference between a bad service experience and a good service experience depends on the integrity, finesse and interpersonal skills of the person behind the counter of the service establishment. It’s their skillful approach of interfacing with customers that makes the sale and, better yet, keeps customers coming back — sometimes even after an unpleasant situation.


I can attest to that interpersonal “power.” One example that comes to mind is a recent trip to the post office during lunch where buying a book of stamps became a frustrating experience because of another customer — one that was turned around because of the postal worker’s skill in taking control of the situation.

The male customer ahead of me in line wanted to overnight a document to his daughter. He started talking to the postal counterperson about the importance of the document, why it had to be there overnight and why it must arrive by noon.

I don’t know if he knew that I was waiting in line behind him, or if he knew and just didn’t care. He wanted to take his good old time, and it really didn’t bother me until his cell phone rang and he answered the call, while the clerk was still processing his order.


She had to wait for a break in his conversation to ask him questions, get his daughter’s address and ask for payment. It was obvious that he had a lack of respect for the clerk’s time, as well as mine.

Sensing my frustration, the clerk made eye contact with me, as to indicate that she was doing everything in her power to speed things up.

He finally got off the phone, just as she was completing the transaction, so she wished him a good day. Instead of leaving, he said he needed something else — a book of stamps.

Maintaining my patience, I just shook my head in disbelief; I was in awe how he could be so rude and then continue to think he was the only customer in the post office!


Finally, he left and the clerk empathized with me, apologized (even though it wasn’t her fault) and quickly handled my transaction — a simple one by comparison.

While I could have easily put that post office on my “list of places I’ll never go again, because of poor customer service,” I didn’t. And, it was be-cause of the way the postal clerk handled a difficult situation — how she impressively delivered great customer service to both customers, even though one of them was overly demanding and rude.

It made me realize that she truly cared about her job and her customers. She knew the importance of making a good first impression and giving each customer 100% of her attention, and the impact that her actions would have in securing future business and repeat customers.


The moral here is that the efforts you make in taking care of your customers is one business imperative you can’t afford to minimize. The extra steps you take to deliver outstanding service, from the moment your customers enter your shop, until the moment they leave, is added assurance that you will earn their long-time loyalty, respect and admiration.

Give your customers several reasons to come back to your shop — reasons to want to do business with you.

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