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Connecting with Others leads to Great Customer Service

"There is a great difference between knowing and understanding.  You can know a lot about something and not really understand it." - Charles F. Kettering

“Your customer service at this hotel is like what Chick-Fil-A's is to the fast food business.”   That comment just came out in an instant without much thought at all, as if, my subconscious decided to speak.

After a long drive from Seabrook, Texas, I was checking into the Orlando World Center Marriott to attend the John C Maxwell Team IMC.  I arrived at 10:30 A.M, well before the standard 4:00 P.M check-in time.  I wasn’t expecting to get into my room, but the team working at the check-in desk made it happen and they did it in a way that was over the top with great service and friendliness.

After I checked-in, I thought about that comment I made referencing Chick-Fil-A’s customer service and told myself that when I returned back to Texas I would try to find out how they do it; how they provide such great customer service.

Every Friday morning at 6:30 A.M. about ten of us meet to fellowship at the local Chick-Fil-A.  The Friday I returned back from Orlando was the Friday after Hurricane Harvey hit the Houston area hard. During our morning discussion we were mainly focused on the efforts everyone was involved in to help others who experienced the worst of the storm and flooding.  

While we were meeting, the owner operator, Craig, stopped by our table to check in with us, say hello, and make sure our experience that morning was to our satisfaction.  I asked Craig if he would be able to spend a few minutes after our meeting, letting him know that I would like to ask him a few questions about their customer service.  He of course graciously agreed to meet.

When we finished up our small group meeting, Craig and I sat down together and he was eager to listen to me discuss what I wanted to talk about pertaining to their customer service.  It was then I realized my question to meet didn’t clarify ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and he probably thought I was there to complain. 

I asked Craig this, “Why is your customer service so good here?”  

Without a thought, his response was, “Because it’s our brand!”  

WOW!  I thought to myself.  How many companies think of their brand as great customer service?  How many leaders, managers, employees can ever answer what their brand is?   And more importantly I thought, how many companies would describe their brand as something as an experience and not a visual, like golden arches, a little red haired girl in pigtails, or a name like Coke or Kleenex?

I explored a little deeper to get to how they did it, so I asked him if they gave their prospective new hires a personality test.  I assumed they had to do something like that to screen the applicants to get the quality of service providers they hire.  Wouldn't you think?

His answer stunned me but made so much sense.

He simply answered, “No, it’s all in the interview, and I look for four things;  Number one, do they have good eye contact.   Number two, do they have a meaningful smile.  Number three, do they speak with enthusiasm.  And number four, do they connect with the heart."

Wow! Wow!  How simple and meaningful.  There it was and it made all the sense in the world to me.  It wasn’t prior experience, nor a diploma, not who they knew, but it was all around how they connected with people.  There is the secret of their success.

Two weeks prior to that conversation I had just finished  John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect.  I internally questioned how much of their hiring principles came out of Maxwell’s book.   A quote in that book resonated pretty strong within me.  Maxwell writes, "When you connect with others, you position yourself to make the most of your skills and talents."  Well think about that; those individuals that make the most of their skills and talents will also maximize the potential of the team, organization or company they are associated with.  There is a direct link between connecting with others and long-term success for both the individual and the organization.

We talked briefly on a couple of the attributes he looked for, but we didn’t need to discuss them in any detail, they are all so simple to understand why they factored into the hiring process and how those characteristics spark a positive customer experience .  But he did go on and said there is a number five.  He elaborated, “Once they are hired, we look to see if they go the second mile.  Right now, it’s early, but come by at lunch and see how busy it gets. They need to go the second mile.”

#1        Good Eye Contact
#2        Meaningful Smile
#3        Speak with Enthusiasm
#4        Connect with the Heart
#5        Will go the Second Mile

Ask yourself, how many businesses do you think approach hiring looking for those attributes, especially individuals they hire to deal directly with customers, whether face-to-face or over the phone?  Do you think they intentionally look for those characteristics?

What’s your criteria for hiring?  Are you hiring individuals that will connect with others?

David S Myslenski is a Business Coach / Leadership Trainer / Speaker and Consultant.  You can reach me at (281) 615-1414 or or learn more how I can help add value to you or your organization at


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