Little Lessons

Make Someone’s Day

Posted by Mark Fallon

Dec 8, 2017 5:00:00 AM

Delta Wine.jpg
A typical Monday morning. The car arrived before dawn to take me to the airport for a multi-city trip. A friendly greeting from the ticket agent when I checked my bag. No lines meant I could breeze through security and get to my retreat – AKA the Delta Sky Club.

While my travels have taken me to airports around the country, The Boston Sky Club is the best. Maybe it’s because the agents always greet me with “Good Morning, Mr. Fallon” – even before they’ve scanned my boarding pass. Or maybe it’s because of the conversations we share about the important things in life – vacations, time with loved ones, and coffee. They make me feel that I’m more than just a customer.

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Topics: appreciation, customer service, travel

Thank You’s Still Work

Posted by Mark Fallon

Mar 1, 2013 1:19:30 AM

For the last several years, I’ve bought my eyeglasses at one of the larger chains. There’s an optometrist’s office attached, so I can get my eye exam at the same time. Plenty of frame styles to choose from, and they normally filled my prescription quickly. A relatively painless experience to go through every couple of years.

Until recently. The doctor’s visit went smoothly, but getting the glasses didn't. Too few staff to handle the customers. A long wait to place my order. A few days later, after getting a call saying my glasses were ready, I had to wait another 30 minutes to discover that only one pair was ready. And that pair had problems. I left with no glasses, but plenty of frustration.

A quick Internet search and I found a smaller company in my hometown. When I drove to Vision Care Specialists, I realized I had passed their office on my way to the larger chain. I was greeted with a friendly smile, and guided over to the men’s frames. The technician spent the next half hour helping me find frames that fit my style. The glasses would be ready in about a week.

I called the big store and cancelled my order. About a week later, I stopped to pick up my new glasses. I was immediately sat down, and the new glasses brought out. The technician made sure the fit was correct, making small adjustments until I felt comfortable. She emphasized that I should come back if there were any problems or concerns.

I felt good about my choice. Until yesterday. In my mailbox was a thank you note from Vision Care. A hand-written thank you note.

Now I feel great about my choice.
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Topics: customer service

The Best Seat in the Bar

Posted by Mark Fallon

Aug 24, 2012 2:07:35 AM

As many of my readers know, I travel for business. A lot. And usually I travel by myself. This means eating a lot of meals alone.

In addition to bring a book with me to dinner, I’ll try and get a seat at the restaurant bar. It’s less conspicuous than sitting at a table for 2 by yourself. Also, most bartenders will carry on a conversation with you.

If a seat is available, I’ll choose a spot closest to the wait staff serve station. It’s usually at the end of the bar, and it’s where the waiters and waitresses pick up drinks for their tables.

It’s also where the fun happens. The banter between the bartenders and the wait staff reveals a lot about the restaurant. You get a feel for the mood of the evening, and get to learn about the other customers, the management and slight glimpses into their personal lives. At the best places, the staff will even include you in their conversations.

It’s more entertaining than any TV reality show. Because it’s real.
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Topics: customer service

Global Encounters Stress Universal Similarities

Posted by Mark Fallon

Apr 25, 2012 4:07:15 AM

I’m at the annual conference for the Association of College and University Printers (“ACUP”). In addition to delivering a keynote address, I had the opportunity to attend several of the education sessions. Two sessions were delivered by international visitors.

Karen Farr is the Manager of the Copy Centre, Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand the current President of NIPPA (Network of In-house Print Professionals Australasia Inc). Karen talked about the industry trends within the NIPPA organization and her challenges at Unitec.

Also presenting was Andrew Scott, Head of Print Design Services, Glasgow Caledonian University; and a member of Executive Committee of University Print Managers Group (UPMG) of the UK. Andrew gave an update on his printing operation and the UPMG, and then provided a brief history of the printing of the bible in the UK.

Interestingly, many of their remarks were the same that I’ve heard from speakers at other conferences. For example, they stressed:

  • Success is achieved by meeting increased demands for quality and customer service.

  • Managers must know and promote the value of your team.

  • You need to meet with your customers and your peers regularly.

  • Networking takes time.

  • Executives probably don’t understand the day-to-day aspects of the business.

  • Uncertainty is the one constant in today’s environment.


These two leaders could be describing any organization in any industry in any part of the world.
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Topics: networking, customer service

Going the Extra Step Pays

Posted by Mark Fallon

Apr 2, 2012 12:23:24 AM

I planned my trip to the conference in detail, including arriving a day early to spend time with friends. I used my travel points to get a free rental car for the weekend. I would turn in the car Sunday morning, as the next 4 days would be spent presenting and attending seminars.

I called down to parking services for my car. Then, I grabbed a book to read in the cab on the way back from the airport. Even with traffic, I would be back before my first session.

The attendant who brought up my car was the same person who checked me in 2 days earlier. His name was Steve, he was also from Massachusetts, and we recognized each other. I explained that I wasn’t checking out of the hotel, but I was checking out the car.

Steve asked, “Are you returning it to Hertz?” Yes, I am.

“We have a Hertz agent on the property. They’re not in right now, but if you want, I can take care of the return for you.”

By offering that extra service, Steve saved an hour of my time, and an expensive cab ride from the airport.

He also earned a generous tip.
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Topics: customer service

Overlooking the Obvious

Posted by Mark Fallon

Dec 13, 2010 10:41:05 AM

"If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail."

This year, I'll fly about 150,000 miles. Most of my trips go smoothly, but there's always a chance something will go wrong. Long lines at security, delayed flights, and overbooked hotels. I've learned to stay calm, keep my perspective, and look for solutions.

When a blizzard hit the Midwest this weekend, I expected problems with my flights today. I wasn't disappointed. When I got to Minneapolis, I was told that my flight to Des Moines was cancelled, and the next available flight was more than 6 hours later. I asked if there was a flight to Omaha, as I'd planned on driving there. There was a seat available on an earlier flight, and the agent made all the transfers.

Looking at all the crowds, numerous flight cancellations and general chaos at the Minneapolis airport, I had doubts about my luggage being switched to the correct flight. When I arrived in Omaha, my instincts proved correct - my bag didn't make the flight. The customer service representative took my cell phone number and said they'd call when they found my luggage.

Before I arrived at my hotel, I received a call from the airline. My luggage was in Des Moines (I thought that flight was cancelled?). I was told that my bag would be sent back to Minneapolis, and then put on a later flight to Omaha, arriving in about 5 hours. I questioned the logic of that choice, explaining it was less than a 2 1/2 hour drive to Omaha. Couldn't they hire a courier to deliver it to me?  The agent said, "We can't do that. We have to send it out on another flight."

If the luggage has already been misdirected once, isn't involving 2 more flights increasing the odds I won't get my bag? Shouldn't the agent be authorized to find the easiest solution to the problem?

I'm still calm. But I also remember the scene at Minneapolis this morning. It probably hasn't improved that much. Fortunately,  I've found a backup in a department store 2 blocks away that opens at 7AM.

Just in case.
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Topics: customer service

Going a Step Beyond

Posted by Mark Fallon

Nov 22, 2010 1:47:49 AM

"The surest way to doom yourself to mediocrity is to perform only the work for which you are paid." - Og Mandino

My new favorite television show is Holmes on Homes on HGTV. Mike Holmes helps out people who have been the victims of bad, and often illegal, home renovations. Mike tears down the poor construction and makes it right.

The show is both entertaining and educational. Mike's larger than life personality is balanced by a profound knowledge of home construction. And his anger at the shoddy work is offset by his genuine concern for the homeowner.

Mike always goes “a step beyond” of what’s expected. Last night, he was working on a basement, and he noticed the kitchen faucet was leaking. When he asked his plumber to fix it, they discovered more problems, so they fixed those too. Even thought it wasn’t part of the job.

Are you doing more than your customers expect?
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Topics: customer service

Delivering Great Service – and My Luggage

Posted by Mark Fallon

Oct 20, 2010 6:57:27 AM

My trusted suitcase saw its last trip a few weeks ago. A makeshift fix to the handle gave out the same day as two zippers. With the amount of packing, plane trips and repacking that I put the bag through, I couldn’t complain much. As I was leaving the next day for an 8-day, 4-state trip, I was glad I had a backup bag.

To help select a new bag, I read the comments posted on SpeakerNet News for suggestions. Professional speakers travel a lot, and their insight was helpful. Consistently, I saw positive remarks about Briggs & Riley luggage. People not only liked the durability, but also how the company backed up their warranty.

While the Briggs & Riley website made it easy to view the different selections, I wanted to hold and touch the bag before I bought it. I was in Omaha, and found a local store, Landmark Luggage & Gifts, that carried the brand.

On entering the store, I was greeted by Daniel Clayton, who asked if I needed any help. He then brought me over to the Briggs & Riley section. I commented that I’d read a lot of nice things about the luggage. He said that while some higher-priced brands may be a little more durable, Briggs & Riley were known for their warranty and outstanding customer service. Confirmation on what I'd read online – fantastic!

I then explained that I was in town for business, and asked how much it would cost to ship the luggage to my house. Daniel said he would only charge me the UPS shipping fee, with no markup. A few mouse clicks, and he had the figures. A very reasonable amount, so I made the purchase.

Before I left, Daniel handed me his business card, asking that I call him if didn’t receive the luggage or had any other issues. By the time I got back to my hotel, he’d also sent me an email with the package tracking information. And a thank-you for shopping at Landmark Luggage.

When I got home from my trip, my new luggage was waiting for me. Since I was leaving for another city in less than 36 hours, it was a welcome sight. A mutual “thank-you” email exchange with Daniel, and my bag was packed.

After my first trip with my Briggs & Riley bag, I know I made the right choice. I love the bag.

And I loved the great service.

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Topics: customer service

It's About More Than Just The Food

Posted by Mark Fallon

Jan 28, 2010 11:06:25 AM

Last night, I had dinner at Chelsea's Kitchen in Phoenix, AZ. The food was very good, but the experience was great.

When I looked at the crowded parking lot, I began to think we couldn't get a table. The head valet said he thought it would be 25-30 minutes for a table. He then had one of his employees run into the restaurant to make sure. When we went inside, the manager welcomed us to the restaurant, took our name and invited us to wait in the patio bar. He would find us when a table was ready.

The bar only had local beers, so the bartender asked what I normally drank, and recommended Deschutes Mirror Pond IPA (very good), and took my credit card to start a tab. While enjoying our drinks, we watched the staff efficiently, yet unobtrusively, change the propane for the outdoor heaters. Less than 20 minutes later, the manager came over and said a table would be ready shortly.

As we were being shown our table, I said I needed to close the tab at the bar. The manager let me know he would transfer the tab to my dinner bill, and returned my card. The service throughout the meal was tremendous. As we were leaving, the manager thanked me by name. When I gave the valet the ticket, he asked me if the wait was too long, and if I enjoyed the meal. Then he ran to get my car.

Yes, the quality of food at a restaurant is important. But the experience means so much more.

What type of experience are you offering your customers?
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Topics: customer service

How Do You Deal With a Disappointed Customer?

Posted by Mark Fallon

Nov 4, 2009 7:12:19 AM

On my flight home this morning, the water wasn’t working on the plane. That meant no coffee. No coffee!!!

When the flight attendant let me know she couldn’t make coffee, she instantly recognized the face of a very disappointed caffeine lover. Then she did something unexpected – she smiled. I immediately smiled back. It was a natural reaction.

My smile changed the tone of my voice as I bemoaned the fact I was at least 2 cups behind my normally scheduled coffee intake. She shared that yesterday she ran out of coffee at home, and didn’t have her first cup of coffee until 1:00pm. At least I had a cup on my previous flight. I settled for water.

Several times during the flight, the attendant checked on me, to see if I wanted anything else. And each time, there was that smile.

The flight attendant couldn’t change the lack of coffee. She attempted, and succeeded, in changing my attitude towards the news.

How do you tell a customer disappointing news?
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Topics: customer service