The Pho Restaurant Fiasco: 

I ordered Pho for delivery and discovered that they had forgotten to include my drinks. I quickly picked up the phone to see if I could remedy the situation before we sat down to eat. When the restaurant answered I explained the situation. The man from the restaurant responded by saying, “Oh yeah they are right here. What do you want to do? Do you want to come get them?” 

I replied, “no, can you deliver them?” 

No answer on the other side of the phone. 

I said it again assuming he didn’t hear me, “can you deliver them?” 

He finally responded with, “I don’t know…..” 

Frustrated and hungry, wanting to get to my dinner I said, “how about this. Either deliver them in the next 20 minutes so my food doesn’t get cold, or give me a refund.” 

He agreed to a refund. 

Problem solved, by me.


The Hotel Check-In Dilemma:

I walked up to the check-in counter at the hotel with my roller suitcase in hand. “I’m checking in,” I said. 

“We are running behind and need another hour before your room is ready,” replied the nice young lady behind the counter. 

“No problem,” I said, “but I have a meeting with clients in 30-minutes and need to change out of my airplane clothes. How can I make that happen before my room is ready?” 

“Sorry, the room isn’t ready,” she said with a forced smile, not solving the problem. 

“I get that but are there other alternatives?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” she said, again with a forced smile.

“Do you have a gym with showers or something like that?” I inquired.

“Oh yes,” she said surprised, “you can go there.”

Problem solved, by me. 


Nail Salon’s Loyal Customer: 

I ran into a friend at the grocery store that goes to the same nail salon as I do. She said, “Oh I just saw Lilly and she was probing me to see if you’ve gone elsewhere since you had to cancel your last appointment and haven’t booked another.” 

“Oh no,” I responded, “I was sick with a chest cold and just totally forgot to reschedule. The days are flying by.” 

“You should call her so she knows you didn’t go elsewhere and so she doesn’t ask me again,” she said laughing. 

Now I’m thinking to myself, “if she noticed I haven’t scheduled and I’ve been a loyal customer for years, why didn’t she call me like I do with my clients when they go dark?”

Instead, I just said, “will do” and walked away. 

Problem not solved, by anyone. 


The Rant and the Opportunity

I’m not sure at what point customer service became the responsibility of the customer but I can tell you that it’s a trend on the rise. Over the past few years I’ve experienced this more and more. I’m solving my own problems everywhere from restaurants to hotels to gyms to insurance client managers.

This article may sound like a rant, but it’s actually an opportunity. Businesses that aspire to win over customers, build a loyal following, and become the preferred choice have a massive opportunity to do one simple thing – deliver good customer service. If you are an entrepreneur, start up, or the underdog in your industry, customer service could be your key to winning over the competition. The key is to train employees to be creative problem-solvers, empowering them with knowledge, and instilling a sense of accountability for customer satisfaction.


  • Empower and reward your employees for solving problems in a way that may be outside their job description
  • Role-play customer problems or complaints so employees can gather the knowledge and practice
  • Hold everyone accountable for customer satisfaction, regardless of job title. 


For leaders, I suspect you don’t actually know about all these little moments that are eroding your brand, your business, and your customer base. I encourage you to spend the day listening to your customer interactions. If you have a software service, look at the incoming emails and get on the phone calls. If you have a hospitality business, work the desk and answer the phones. Most of these customer problems aren’t the big ones like “my room you gave me was a mess,” or “the system broke down.” It’s actually the little ones, similar to the moments I mentioned above that kill your business.

Something as simple as good customer service could be your competitive advantage in a cluttered world where mediocre service and low expectations have become the norm. You’ll stand out more than a hot pink and orange striped zebra standing on top of an iceberg, and you’ll win the hearts of your customers. 



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