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But Seriously Folks… Customer Service You Can Take to the Bank

On an episode of Undercover Boss, Joe DePinto, the CEO of 7-Eleven, went undercover at a 7-Eleven Store in Shirley, NY, to find out why they sell more cups of coffee than any other franchise. Shortly after arriving at work at 5:30 a.m., Joe discovered the secret of their success: an energetic, outgoing 7-Eleven employee named Delores.

Because she has worked at 7-Eleven for over 18 years, Delores knows many of her customers by name. Her official job is to run the coffee station, keeping the area tidy and the coffee pots full, but her value to the company far exceeds the worth that her job title alone would imply.

Every day, hundreds of customers pour through their location’s doors, filling up their coffee cups, and exchanging a few words with Delores. She might ask a customer how his job is going, how her family is, or what he thinks the weather might do, but with each interaction, the math proves that Delores is moving coffee. A lot of it.

It seems that people just like coming to a place where they feel welcomed and appreciated. Go figure, huh?

It’s amazing the difference just one person can make. It’s also amazing how many businesses aren’t aware of the impact their frontline people can have on their bottom line. In some cases, such as Delores’, customer contact results in spectacular success. But, in other cases, maybe not so much.

I first met Andrea at the Buford location of Mega Bank where I have my business checking account. (That’s not their real name, but you already knew that, didn’t you?) Andrea was always friendly and helpful when she worked as an assistant branch manager. I enjoyed seeing her and got to know her by name.

When she got her own branch to manage, though, all of that changed. There was a new sheriff in town and by golly, things were going to be run right. I found that anytime I went to the new location, which, by the way, was much closer to my home than the Buford branch, a teller would find some minute problem with my deposit, handing it back with a smug look on her face as if to say, “Get it right, and then we’ll think about taking your money.” Mind you, I had been doing business with their bank for well over ten years. It just didn’t seem to matter.

Here’s the really interesting thing about this story, though. Instead of sweating it out, trying to please the powers that be at that one location, I would just drive to one of their other locations further away and make the deposit there. And get this, EVERY deposit rejected by Andrea’s branch as being incorrect was always accepted by another one of their branches without a problem!

Now, the people who don’t know how money is made or where they get their paycheck will read this story and think that all the rest of the bank locations needed to get their acts together like Andrea’s bank. But customer-service-savvy people will instantly recognize the tremendous blunders Andrea made.

1] She made doing business difficult. For some customers, it might well have made more sense to do business with the competition right across the street.

2] She made doing business unpleasant. You can’t always say “yes” to customers, but you don’t have to make them feel like you enjoy saying “no,” do you?

In my opinion, Andrea couldn’t have done more damage to her bank if she had been a corporate saboteur. For all I know, she might have been. By the way, Andrea is gone now, and guess what? Wonder of wonders, we no longer have a problem with making deposits at that branch. What a huge difference one person can make!

The question you have to ask yourself is, on which side of the customer service line do you fall? Are you insuring that people enjoy their time with you, or are you silently sabotaging your team?

 © 2018 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site  or contact him via e-mail at

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