Customer Service Innovation: Change The Cup

October 24, 2011

Customer Service Innovation Seminar

Customer Service has  changed so much in the last few years because of the rise social media and online resources. Feedback and word-of-mouth testimonials have never been so connected across a digital and virtual expanse at the speed of a single click. It’s time to make the customer front and center in order to sustain a business.

The old rules no longer apply. Before, we thought that if a customer is satisfied, they will tell a couple of their friends. And if they weren’t,  they would tell more than 10 of their friends about their bad experience. Today, a totally dissatisfied customer will tell their thousands of closest strangers!

The world is changing so fast and we have no choice but to change along with it. It’s no longer enough to have satisfied customers. We need to WOW them! We need to INNOVATE.

I remember leadership development speaker & author Mark Sanborn’s story about awful customer service:

I was famished. I had fasted for a medical procedure that was scheduled for early morning; in addition to being hungry, I was dying for my morning jump start of caffeine. Fortunately, there was a Starbucks located just around the corner from the hospital, so I picked up a cappuccino to go.

There was a popular deli nearby. I knew from previous experience that the food was good, so I parked and went inside with my just-started Starbucks cappuccino. “One for breakfast,” I said to the hostess. Seeing my Starbucks cup, she rather sternly replied, “We don’t allow outside food or beverages in the restaurant. You’ll either have to down it or leave it at the counter.”

I wasn’t about to discard my three-dollar cappuccino, so I decided to take my coffee and money elsewhere.

Her curt challenge to my not-purchased-there coffee felt like a personal rebuke. I could empathize with a business owner who wanted to sell his or her own coffee, but I had already purchased mine elsewhere. I was more than willing to spend $10 for breakfast, but the restaurant, by requiring that I dispense of my recently purchased Starbucks cappuccino, ended up with nothing and lost me permanently as a customer.

Upset at how I was treated, I called my brother Shawn, who is a successful restaurant owner and operator. After explaining the scenario, I asked for his opinion on what had happened. He saw an easy solution: “She should have said, `We don’t allow outside food or beverages, so let me pour your drink into one of our cups after I seat you.’ No competitor’s coffee cup would be on the table, you would keep your beverage, and they would get to keep the money you spent on breakfast.”

The cup here is symbolic. We don’t necessarily need to change our staff or the way we train our people in order to give good customer service. What is required is a change of mindset. Deliver the same great products and services that you have. Just change the “cup”. Change the way you offer solutions. Change the way you communicate to your customers. More importantly, change how you make your customers feel.

Are you ready to change the cup today?

Francis Kong will be speaking on the topic of Customer Service Innovation along with international hotelier and service excellence consultant Merril Yu. This event is on November 9, 2011 at the Crowne Plaza hotel. For more details, click here:

This Post Has 5 Comments


    Wow. Amazing illustration.
    Change the cup.
    Every business owner should know about this so they can share it to their people. Or better yet let their people come along with them to your CSI Seminar.
    More power, Sir Francis!

  2. Dan

    How I wish I could attend this event!

  3. Jennifer

    Hi Francis!

    I so miss this site of yours! I’ve been caught up with too many things that I forgot how energizing reading through this blog.

    CSI -Wednesday, tsk! What time is it?

    Good health and safety always for you and your family!


  4. sandy

    “thousands of closest strangers”? now, that’s really funny! But it sure opened my eyes! Very true! Social media has really made it easy for almost everything and anything..

    Thanks, Mr. Kong, for this paradigm shift.

  5. William V. Sobers

    I miss this huge event, but next i hope will be able to make it and be inspired by Francis Kong words

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