effort, impact

What Does the Devil and Great Customer Service Have in Common?

It’s in the details.

Sad to say that expectations for great customer service has gotten so low that even OK to moderate service blows us away. “WOW, THEY BROUGHT US WATER!” Sad, but true.

In a world where your barista wants a tip for just doing their job, it’s the little things…the effort…that seem to be lost (FYI barista, you’re on notice. I don’t tip for pushing buttons). Two incidents recently made me smile and, I hate to say this, that hasn’t happened very often when it comes to customer service.

Incident Numero Uno: Not Thrifty on Service
On the shopping list during a   trip to my local Thrifty Foods supermarket was a carton of eggs. Now, my mother taught me well. I always make sure to check the eggs first to make sure of no cracked or broken shells, and this time was no different. When I went to purchase them, the cashier made sure to check my eggs for me as well. Did he think I was an idiot who was raised as a sheltered urbanite, far removed from the farm? Didn’t he know I could handle my eggs? Of course he did. He was just taking that extra step to ensure I was getting the product I was paying for.

Incident Numero Dos: No Mayday on this Bay Day
The dreaded Valentine’s Day had arrived. I was no rookie – straight to the romantic and sweet. I went to The Bay and bought my girlfriend a nifty vase. The cashier made the effort to have a conversation with me…and not that “so, how’s your day?” crap. It was certainly light but it was engaging as she made jokes about her inability to use Scotch Tape (she did suck at it). As well, she made a point of  wrapping my gift, finding a box for me and a bag to take it home in. Could she have wrapped it in paper and put it in a bag? Sure, that would have worked but it wasn’t a step that would have added value.

I know, I know, I’m getting excited about a guy eyeballing my eggs and a square piece of cardboard. But that’s what it comes down to…the little things. You should always aim for great customer service but you should always remember that it’s the little things that mean the most.

Has a business done something for you recently that was small but significant? Please share.


  • I have to say, every time I hit Costco I am exhausted and irritated by the end of my shop. But the check out staff is always cheerful, makes relevant and engaging conversation, AND they check the weight of those giant bags so that you can actually pick the bag up out of the cart.

    I’m usually smiling on my way out! Until I get home and have to unpack, but that’s another story.

    • Is your irritation and exhaustion from Costco shopping due to the layout or customer service? It certainly looks like they focus their “big guns” at the end of your experience…nice way to at least leave happy.
      Thanks for the example.

      • It’s due to all the other shoppers in Costco, quite honestly. There’s not much they could do to change the experience for me, it’s just the giant carts left in the middle of the aisle, the frenzies over samples, the wanderers, and the confusion when the lineups are super full. I am all business when I go in there…personal mission to make it in and out in 30 minutes!

        I choose to do a big shop there and follow up with visits to my local IGA where I always get great service and the shelves are never empty.

        • Thanks for the comments Jen.
          Sounds like Costco could do with a few more bodies on the floor to cover the clutter. Customers on the other hand, they do what they do.

          I’ve often been tempted to do a shopping market comparison: Safeway, Thrifty Foods and IGA. Wonder who would come out on top for great customer service?

  • Getting excited about a guy eyeballing your eggs! Line of the day for sure Russel. You already know how I feel about the advanced expectation of a tip by too many sectors of our service industry. Here’s another service we mindlessly tip in lieu of actual good customer service: taxis. These guys never even bother to say thanks when you tip them. You end up thanking THEM!
    I have a T-Shirt idea for you: DO NOT EYEBALL MY EGGS PLEASE.
    Great post!

    • Thanks for the comment Doug. I’m getting Dog’s Ear to put together an order of STOP EYEBALLING MY EGGS! shirts immediately.
      I completely agree with taxis. Subway is also on my hit list. They have to understand that tipping in restaurants is due to the experience…which waiters, cooks and hosts have a hand in. We don’t expect them to just “do their job” but add to the value.
      Counter service is not the same animal.

  • Russel; I couldn’t agree more. It’s so very sad how excited we get over basic customer service but it’s always refreshing to see it practiced. Excellent article.


    • Thanks for the kind words and the comment Todd. Customers aren’t looking for grand gestures (though those are nice) but rather attentiveness and empathy. Both of which can be expressed in realistic ways.

  • I had a cashier at Fairway Market crush my ice for me once! She grabbed the bag, smashed it on her counter 4-5 times, it was loud, obnoxious and AWESOME! She smiled and said, “nothing worse than when the ice gets stuck in one block.” It was unique and I liked it. They also check my eggs and it is a nice gesture I can appreciate.

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