I Absolutely Can

I watched customer service failure at Target the other day. My wife was in the dressing room, while I waited outside and observed three (count ’em: three!) less-than-motivated employees half-heartedly putting clothes away, and gatekeeping the entrance to the dressing room. They were all complaining about how tired they were, and were barely doing any work.

Some poor guy came up with 7 pairs of shorts to try on. One of the three “red shirts” said in a snide voice, “Only six items.” Poor Guy said, “Even if they’re different sizes of the same kind?” Red Shirt, nastily: “Yep. Only Six.” Poor Guy walked away with his head down, and came back later with six (count ’em: six!) pairs of shorts. If it had been me, I would have left. I would have bought shorts elsewhere.

I was instantly reminded of a tweet that I saw from Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence and The Little Big Things (which is, by the way, an excellent book!). Peters had been spending the weekend at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Tysons Corner, Virginia. His tweet said that three times he had heard these words coming from the mouth of an employee at the Ritz:  “I absolutely can!”

I absolutely can. What a great way to make a customer feel appreciated. What a great way to gain loyalty. What a great way to provide true, caring service. How much does it cost to use those three words? It often costs nothing.

What if Red Shirt would have said to Poor Guy: “You absolutely can take seven shorts into the dressing room. I’ll just check them when you come out.” Poor Guy would have felt respected and somewhat special. He may have even felt loyalty to the Target brand.

I have encouraged our staff at Mt. Calvary to “lead with a ‘yes.'” It means leaning toward a “yes” before you lean toward a “no.” It means saying “I absolutely can” to any reasonable request.  It means showing care, concern, and respect for those whom we serve. It means building loyalty. It means that the first instinct is to serve.

Wouldn’t it be great if the places you frequent would use those three words that most anyone would love to hear? I absolutely can! What a great theme for customer service.

When and how can you use those words in your life? What are your ideas for “leading with a yes”?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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