Water for Elephants is a new movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Hal Holbrook based on the best-selling novel by Sara Gruen. Without giving away any of the punch line, the star, Jacob Jankowski suddenly drops out of Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine when he learns in the middle of his final exam that his parents have been killed. It is the height of the depression and work comes hard. He lands on a train as a hobo only to learn it is the train of a traveling circus. When the circus owner learns Jacob is a vet from a prestige school, he elects to let him stay to take care of feeding and cleaning up after the circus animals. It is a necessary but grimy job.
There is great exhilaration from delighting customers like a circus act charms its audience under the big top. There is gratification that comes from amazing customers much like the trapeze act, lion tamer, or fire breathing magician. But, all that rests on how well service providers insure there is “water” for customers—the basic need the customer wants and expects. The charming wait staff, mouthwatering menu, and eye-popping ambiance is only as effective as the coffee is hot, the table top clean and the parking lot safe. What is the “water” for your customers? How can you quality control it so it never interferes with the service show your customers want to rave about!