Service of Exemplary Service

May 30th, 2013

Categories: Customer Care, Customer Service, Retail, Service, Service Personality


Here are a few recent instances of people who performed well beyond expectations. What a joyful way to end the month of May!


Kelsi, a teenage checkout person at the A&P in Pleasant Valley, NY shocked me when she opened a box of erase sponges in my pile of things on the conveyor belt. “Missing two, thought so,” she said.

Groceries“How could you possibly tell?” I asked her, astonished as these sponges weigh as much as whipped egg whites. While she sent someone back to retrieve an intact box she said, “In training they sent through a woman with an empty pizza box. You pick it up.” It turns out that the person who stole the two sponges went to town: Many of the remaining boxes were also missing two.

In the Chips

After a strenuous visit to a physical therapist for a bum arm my husband, [who is also inching out of a year with chronic Lyme disease so he must use his energy sparingly] dropped by Fairway on East 86th Street in Manhattan. I’d asked him to pick up a bag of my favorite Fairway restaurant style tortilla chips as he was in the neighborhood.

Tortilla chipsOn entering, he asked a young man where to find them. He responded: “Wait here, I’ll be right back,” and he ran downstairs, soon emerging with just the right chips. Did my husband have written on his face or in his body language, “I hate shopping and I don’t want to be here?” I wager he may go back to that store anyway because he called me on the spot—he also dislikes speaking on his mobile phone—to tell me how pleased and surprised he was at this glorious service.

Seamless Service

MendingIt’s dry cleaning season. I went to Thims in its Salt Point, NY branch to pick up a load of fresh woolens and a skirt came back outside the plastic protective bags with a handwritten note that Heather Killmer read to me. The note inquired whether I wanted the tailor to fix a tiny tear on a seam before the garment was cleaned. There were precise instructions as to where this tear was located—we needed them. I mentioned to Ms. Killmer how astonished I was that someone had even noticed such a microscopic flaw. “We carefully go over every piece before we clean it,” she smiled.

Do you think, “What’s the big deal, these people are doing their jobs” or do you agree we’ve lucked in to some special operations or individuals? Can you share similar service experiences?  

Cherry on top

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5 Responses to “Service of Exemplary Service”

  1. JPM Said:

    I like to eat. I’ve always liked to eat, but I like to eat well.

    Although not everyone realizes it, including a fair number of New York restaurant owners, what often distinguishes a great from a good meal is how it is served. All too frequently, and not just in New York, top restaurant service is unctuously pandering, or arrogantly patronizing.

    Instead, give me any day a $12.00 a plate sushi chef who works in a basement, knows his craft, serves fresh fish, and looks genuinely pleased when you complement him on it. His food costs a tenth as much; you have to wait to get a place at the bar, but there are usually a bunch of Japanese waiting with you who are not complaining because it’s worth the wait. Eating there sure is better than having some snide, puffed up professional waiter extoll the virtues at you of an adequate but mediocre bottle of wine you picked because you couldn’t afford a better one.

    The greatest meal I ever ate anywhere was a few years ago at Martin Berasategui’s place outside of San Sebastian, Spain. As we walked in on a wet snowy-rainy night, we were graciously greeted as if we were known clients, which we were certainly were not. After the Maitre d’ seated us, my wife went to put her evening pocket book down on the immaculately clean floor. Before the bag hit the ground, out of nowhere materialized a little stool for it to sit upon. The meal only went upwards from there.

    I don’t think that you can teach service — the details, yes, but not the idea. To serve well you have to have pride in what you are doing, and want to do it well. The three employees you mentioned obviously do, as does the staff at Martin Berasategui’s.

    But then that is what your blog is all about, isn’t it?

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    When I walk down the street of any city–NY, Paris, London–people of all ages slam into me, cut me off–obviously not everyone, but some. I can count on having countless cabs grabbed before I can get to them if I’m encumbered with luggage or boxes during a rainstorm or rush hour.

    Either nobody taught these people how to behave or they forgot. I think that there is room for training to refresh the memories of these people as some must hold a position in service.

    Those who are great at their work either have empathy for those receiving the service and/or they understand their jobs. It would be nice to think that they will be rewarded.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    I am convinced people attract positives and others, negatives, partially, perhaps because that’s what they expect. On a recent trip to the Midwest, I was “adopted” by a stranger on two separate occasions, experiences which saved me close to $80.00. This does not include other helpful tips and fun chats I had with other temporary friends. Sure, this is an amiable part of the country, but also the home of notorious murderers, kidnappers and thieves, so it pays to be alert.

    I became ill during a stay in Pennsylvania a couple of years ago, and had a nightmarish struggle through the NYC subways on return. “Angels” popped out from nowhere on several occasions to help with the luggage. Perhaps this was a part of lucking out, and that unpleasant experiences lay in wait. Perhaps I am fortunate enough to have a certain presence which encourages being helped. Who knows?

    That said, this is no Mother Theresa writing. I won’t hesitate to fight for that cab if I feel it was “mine” in the first place. I distinguished myself by elbowing a woman, whose arm was in a sling, back in line after she attempted to brush me aside. I’m unrepentant and will do it again. Compassion only sets in when I see the problem first and then will cheerfully volunteer help.

    Anyone planning to grab “my” cab, or push me out of “my” parking spot?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Just last week I reached the sidewalk with two bags so heavy I could hardly lift them and planted myself on the appropriate corner with the bags balanced on either foot so they wouldn’t get wet, an umbrella in one hand and tote on a shoulder. All the others looking for cabs had to do was to cross the street ahead of me: No contest!

    I don’t take enough cabs for my experiences to be statistically significant, though the negative experiences stick with me. The first time I was out in the rain with a boot on my then newly broken foot–with instructions not to walk much–racing in front of me to jump in a cab was a piece of cake and eat many fat slices these people did.

    I am certain that they are all extremely successful but not in a service business. Lack of empathy doesn’t fit a service personality. The angels who helped you were thankfully not among this crew.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    That’s perhaps part of the trouble. Trash the negative experiences. Most of us get a soaking at one time or another. There’s a saying about not sweating “the small stuff.” If the cab incident was the worst thing that happened all day, offset it with treating yourself to something once you get home. If there was more than one aggravation, all the more reason for a treat. I like myself, and according to a couple I ran into, it shows. I don’t believe in mumbo jumbo, but perhaps that sets off something which attracts “angels.” Try to be one as well. See someone behind you in a line, with only one or two purchases? Do you let him/her go ahead, even if you are in a hurry? Do you coax a trapped insect to fly out the window? Share its joy and you will feel good all day!

    The catching cab crowd is a rough one, especially in bad weather. Study various strategies, which include politely undercutting the competition. Winning is grand! Just ask the Mets!

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