The Ultimate Customer Compliment

movie theaterToday’s guest blogger is Michael Sansolo, author of The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies. Michael Sansolo is a consultant and frequent speaker for the food retail industry, and is a contributing editor and weekly columnist for MorningNewsBeat.com, a daily newsletter on the retail industry.

The Ultimate Customer Compliment

There is one simple line of praise that every business should seek when it comes to gauging the customer experience. It happens when one customer gladly recommends a store, product or service to someone else.

In our new book, The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies, my co-author Kevin Coupe and I argue that we can use popular films to tell highly descriptive stories to drive our businesses. And there is one movie scene on customer service that stands out for all time when it comes to winning customer recommendations.

Recall the most famous scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally. It takes place in a restaurant, and Harry, played by Billy Crystal, boasts about his prowess as a lover. Sally, played by Meg Ryan, asks how he can be so certain. Harry says he can tell, but Sally is skeptical.

In a scene of hilarity rivaled by few moments in movie making, Sally proceeds to experience what appears to be physical ecstasy despite the face she is sitting in a restaurant. Her movements, moans and groans draw the attention of everyone sitting around her as Sally presses on until she concludes with what can only be described as a sexual climax. And then she calmly returns to eating, having made her point that Harry doesn’t really know if his lovers are satisfied.

But that’s only the set up. Within seconds, the camera focuses on a much older woman sitting behind Sally, who was interrupted in the middle of ordering her meal. Asked what she wants, the woman points to Sally and says, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

It’s hilarious. And it’s a great statement on customer service.

Great customer service makes other shoppers want to get involved. Great customer service generates word of mouth, new clients, and a reputation that can’t be beat.  Great customer service makes others say, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

Every business should seek to build that moment. They should seek to provide an explosion of customer delight that draw attention and raves. In fact, we should crave the “I’ll have what she’s having” compliment from trading partners, employees, and more.  We all want our business to be the admired business and the one that others want to work with or for.

On screen it’s an easy moment. Inside a business it is anything but. One premise of The Big Picture is that businesspeople can use film moments to build success stories.  Consider showing the restaurant scene to your employees and ask them what it would take to win that moment of envy.

The simple truth is that great customer service is so easily achieved, but also easily ignored because being average is usually good enough. However, an extra smile, courtesy or show of personality can go a long way.

A few weeks back I was in an Aldi Supermarket in Illinois watching customers. Aldi is known for extremely low prices. The stores have few items and few employees, so service is non-existent. But on this day, the young woman at the cash register was making magic happen.

As customers came through her lane she could have handled them quickly and accurately, and that would have been acceptable. But she did more, complimenting them on their product choices. With one simple move, she elevated the checkout experience and made each shopper feel special. It cost nothing and took almost no time.

Now imagine an Aldi shopper sharing that moment with a friend who had an ordinary shopping trip somewhere else the same day. In short, that cashier made others say, “I’ll have what she’s having.” That’s going to lead to new shoppers, new sales, and new success.

And just like that, an ordinary day becomes a happy story about customer service.  The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies is loaded with lessons like that.  We hope you’ll like it. More importantly, we hope those around you will see you enjoy it and will say to themselves, “I’ll have what she’s having.”

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13 Responses

  1. Thanks for hosting Kevin Coupe and Michael Sansolo today. I’ve read The Big Picture. It’s always neat to see a business book that isn’t just the same old stuff over and again.

    I can’t wait to hear your interview with Michael from yesterday.

    Thanks for hosting Coupe and Sansolo during their tour.


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  4. The book is on my desk and not “just another business book” it can help teams find a common story and build new ones…looking forward to hearing Michael and Kevin expand on this work

  5. Michael, nice to read your post on Becky’s blog!

    Ah, yes, When Harry Meg Sally…it’s amazing how just by having a positive outlook on your own experience, especially as a customer, people that hear the story want that positivity too. We all seem to crave happiness. Positive experiences appeal to this natural human drive.

    A good test might be to act like you really enjoy your food while out to dinner. I bet you that the other diners will either ask to taste or will look disappointed with their meal if they aren’t having quite as good of a time with their food :)

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