Little bits of what?

April 23, 2006 at 6:58 pm 2 comments

I just finished watching Scott Pelley’s interview of Starbucks President Howard Schultz on 60 minutes and I’m inspired to share something that I wrote a few weeks ago but then felt shy about posting.

Why the change of heart? It was something Schultz said early in the interview. He told Pelley that an employee had coined the phrase, ‘We’re not in the business of filling bellies. We’re in the business of filling souls.” Pelly’s cynical response was, “oh, c’mon you’re blowing smoke.” Maybe, but… Here’s the post that’s been sitting in my drafts folder:

My wife and I were recently reminiscing about our first date and she remarked, “Yeah, there we were on our first date talking about customer service. That’s part of the reason I fell in love with you.” Maybe that’s not the best reason to be passionate about customer service, but it’s nice icing on the cake. :-)

I remember telling her that I loved working at the reference desk, just as I had loved working at Nordstrom, or at my college jobs working in a pizza place, and delivering prescriptions for a local pharmacy. My secret was this: People thought I was giving them little bits of information, or dress shirts, or slices of pizza, or drugs, but I was really giving them little bits of love.

My future wife’s reaction to this was, and I think I’m quoting exactly, “OK, now you’re starting to freak me out a little bit.” So I went on to explain in less freaky terms that what I enjoyed about providing customer service was the opportunity to connect with other people, if only briefly, and possibly make their day just a little brighter. Regardless of the specific transaction (reference, pizza, dress shirts, prescriptions), I was also (or primarily) giving them a little bit of myself, and that was my real job. If little ‘bits of love’ is too freaky, so be it. Little bits of fill-in-the-blank. Kindness. Caring. Service.

So in light of my own freaky customer service inclinations I’m inclined to believe that Howard Schultz was not blowing steam up Pelley’s espresso. (Boy, I could sure go for a double tall skinny chocolate almond moo right now!)

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2 Comments

  • 1. Janie L. Hermann  |  April 23, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    I read this post in your draft folder and have been waiting for you to post it. I am so glad you did as it sums up so much of what I also believe about customer service. I love being behind the reference desk or teaching classes.. and giving that “little bit” of myself to others every day. I can’t imagine myself in a job that doesn’t involve customer service. My first job was at McD’s and I have been a public service employee ever since. Great Post Pete… thanks for finally sharing it with the rest of the world.

  • 2. someonespadre  |  April 23, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    no offense, starbucks is where people who don’t like coffee get coffee.


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