The Power of the Extra Straw

Talk to 100 grandparents about how customer service has changed and you will get a common theme–the soul of service has been removed.  Probe a bit further and you learn that “soul” is the spirit of other-centered care laced with generosity, true compassion, and an unmistakable desire to add value not just fulfill an obligation.  It is the power of the extra straw.

We were conducting a focus group with family members who had a parent in an assisted living community of our client.  We were searching for a deep understanding of the key factors that drove customer advocacy.  The topic of conversation was a particular nurse in the unit that served dementia residents.  “She gives my mother an extra straw.”  Everyone in the room registered an all-knowing recognition of exactly the meaning of the compliment.  Nothing more needed to be said.  Service had been delivered with soul.  And, just like the 100 grandparents will tell you, take the soul out of service and you are left with the character of an ATM or elevator.  Would your customers say they get an extra straw?

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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