The Simple Truths of Service: A book review by Bob Morris

The Simple Truths of Service: Inspired by Johnny the Bagger
Ken Blanchard and Barbara A. Glanz
Sourcebooks, Inc. (2017, 2018)

Why and how almost anyone “can be a Johnny”

The results of all of the major research studies of customer satisfaction —  that I have examined — indicate that feeling appreciated is ranked among what is most important. (That is also true of employee satisfaction.)This is what Maya Angelou has in mind when suggesting, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This is among the most enjoyable as well the most practical and most valuable business books I have read in recent years. Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz provide a number of mini-profiles of real people who demonstrate superior customer service in everyday situations such as these:

o A fan at a San Diego Padres baseball game ordered two fish tacos at a concession stand and soon discovers he was given two chicken tacos.

o Another fan needed milk to feed her baby and went up to a concession stand. She was told that Petco Park does not sell milk.

o A bagger at a supermarket wanted to do more than smile or say “Have a nice day” to make customers feel appreciated.

o A butcher makes creative use of Snoopy stickers

o The floral market in the same store does not throw away broken flowers and unused corsages.

o Ken Blanchard’s 90-year-old mother struggled to have her refrigerator repaired.

o A fix-it man was reluctant to start his own company but he did — with 25-33 repair persons on call each day — without increasing his payroll.

o A cab driver named Wally doubled and then quadrupled his business — without roaming the streets or waiting in long lines — by “running a limo service out of a taxi.”

What would you have done in each of these situations? What Blanchard and Glanz reveal indicates how almost anyone can create what Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell characterize as “customer evangelists.” (Blanchard calls them “raving fans.” You get the idea.) The person featured in each the stories did whatever a customer needed…and then some.

These three little words — “and then some” — are “the secret to success. They are the difference between average people and top people in most companies. The top people do what is expected…and then some.” In this context, I am again reminded of what Napoleon Hill learned after interviewing dozens of the world’s most successful business leaders. When asked by his patron, Andrew Carnegie, what they shared in common. “All of them stressed the importance of going the extra mile.” That may qualify as a “simple truth” but is far easier said than done. How you treat your customers can — and should — be your competitive advantage.

Note that I have said very little about Johnny the Bagger. The stories in Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz’s book explain his unique significance and substantial impact. Read the book, then “be a Johnny” and urge your colleagues to do the same.



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