From the Customer Service Warrior Files – The Hotel Airport Shuttle

This little exchange actually took place recently as I was leaving a hotel to return to the airport. It’s a classic example of a quintessential comedy (or tragedy) of errors. It is submitted for your reading pleasure.

Hotel “Airport Shuttle” Driver: “Where are you headed?”
Me: “To the airport.”
**10 min. later, as we approach the airport**
Me: “Do you need to know which airline I’m flying on?”
**Note: Newark has 3 different terminals**
Driver: “When I asked you where you were going, you said the airport.”
Me: “Isn’t this the AIRPORT shuttle?”
Driver: “Yes.”
Me: o_O “Doesn’t that mean everyone getting on this shuttle is going to the airport?”
Driver: “Yes, but if you’re going to a specific airline you need to tell us that next time. Otherwise we take you to where we pick people up from the airport.”
Me: o_O “You mean you have a lot of people that get on the airport shuttle just to come to the airport, but aren’t catching flights and/or want to be dropped off where you pick passengers up?”
Driver: “No. Not really.”
Me: o_O “Well, I’m flying on Delta.”
Driver: “So you want me to take you to the Delta Terminal?”
Me: o_O “Yes.”
Driver: “Ok. Next time you should let us know that you want to go to a specific airline.”
Me: “There won’t be a next time.”
**By this time the other passengers on the shuttle are cracking up… and yelling out the names of their airlines**

#truestory #customerservicewarrior #whatdoyoutolerate

Getting There & Staying There is Here!

Greg’ new book:

The People Side of Sustained Operational Excellence

Is available NOW from our store page!

What’s it all about?

If you’re the leader (or aspiring leader) of any organization, these questions are critical for you to be able to answer:

  • What “Leadership Reality Checks” do you need to make certain you’re aware of?
  • How do you make the time to deliver effective feedback?
  • What makes a recognition program “meaningful”?
  • How do you make sure accountability is part of your organizational culture?
  • How do you make certain your people see training as a benefit and not a punishment?
  • How do you keep everyone focused on your organizational priorities?
  • What do you need to do to maximize team member engagement and buy-in?
  • How do you make sure the metrics you rely on are helping and not hurting you?

“GETTING THERE & STAYING THERE” answers all these very important questions and many more! No matter what type of organization or team you lead, getting consistent optimal performance from the people on your team is key to your organization’s success and your success as a leader – even if that team is your family! When it comes to sustained operational excellence, GETTING THERE is good. STAYING THERE is better!

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ISBN: 9781935777021
227 pages

Excerpt from Greg’s upcoming book

Excerpt from “Getting There and Staying There” Overcoming the obstacles to sustained operational excellence

When someone doesn’t know how to do a particular task, the obvious strategy is to provide the person some type of training or instruction for the necessary skill.

That being said, here’s the tricky part – sometimes people are sent to training not because they don’t know how to do something, but rather because they are not doing it.

In other words, they are being sent to training because there is a will deficit. Not a skill deficit.

As someone who spent 4 years as a corporate trainer, I saw evidence of this all the time. There were people who were being sent to training not because they didn’t know how to do something, but because they weren’t doing it.

More recently I did a consult with a prospective client who’d been referred to me by one of my current clients.

The person I was consulting with was the director of a 400-person call center that provided customer service for a major satellite service provider.

Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “How can I be of service?”
Them: “We need you to teach our customer service representatives how to properly greet customers who call”
Me: “Do they not know how to properly greet callers?”
Them: “Oh no. They know how they are supposed to greet callers!”
Me: “So how do you think I might be able to help?”
Them: “We need you to get them to the point where they greet customers properly who call?”
* awkward silence *
Me: “So they really don’t know how to greet callers?”
Them: “Oh, they know exactly what they are supposed to be doing when they answer the phone!”

This back and forth went on for a few moments before I informed the prospective client that I was pretty certain that my training their employees how to answer the phones properly was not going to get the results they were looking for.

The response I got was “Listen, we hear you’re good at this kind of thing, and since you have call center experience, we’d like you to do this for us”.

Note: For those of you that don’t know, a 24-hour call center with 400 employees who can’t all be off the phones for training at the same translates into a sizable body of work for my company.

I told the director that it didn’t seem to me that they were dealing with a training issue for the customer service reps. Rather it sounded like the management team might need to spend some time investigating what really is going on, and that I could help them with that.

She responded that training the customer service reps was the path they wanted to take at this point.

I respectfully declined the work.


Because I knew that while my training class might put some wind in the sails of their employees for a while, that their behavior would probably soon revert back to where it was before and that the impression left would be that my company didn’t deliver.

It can be very problematic for any organization if it becomes the cultural norm for individuals to be sent to training or instructional classes because of a will deficit vs. a skill deficit. The result usually is that training, which should be seen as a positive developmental and growth opportunity, will soon begin to be seen by the members of the organization as punishment.

You’ll know whether this may be happening in your organization if when you tell people they will be attending training, they respond by saying, “What did I do?!”

The point here is that training/instruction is exactly the right strategy when there is a skill deficit. Not when there is a will deficit.

6 Unexpected Outcomes from “Dad from a Distance”

A Tale of Unexpected Outcomes

Last year when I published my first book, “Dad from a Distance”, I did so with a very targeted and specific goal in mind – I wanted to provide a tool or road map for non-custodial fathers to help them stay connected and engaged in a meaningful way with their children.

It was important to me because, in fact, I was/am that guy. I am a non-custodial father and I know how much it would have meant for me to have such a tool especially early on.

The response was tremendous. I received an outpouring of support for the work and lots of “attaboys” from friends and colleagues near and far.

There were, however, a few unintended and unexpected outcomes that I found equally interesting and rewarding.

First, it turns out that 9 out of 10 of the people who purchased the book were women. Now on the surface I suppose that that shouldn’t have surprised me that much given that women probably tend more likely to be be readers and buyers of books. I also found it interesting is that not only were they were purchasing it for their fathers, brothers, sons, nephews (and yes, their exes), they often also purchased a copy for themselves.

Second, I found that many of the women who purchased the book saw it as a great read and tool for all fathers, including those who were in the home in the “nuclear” family setting because, as was often communicated to me, many fathers struggle not because they are at a “physical” distance from their children, but because they are at an “emotional” distance from them. I received lots of feedback that the ideas and strategies in the book are perfect for those Dads, too.

Third, most readers saw “Dad from a Distance” through a much broader lens than did I One of the most common bits of feedback from those who read the book was that they really saw it more as a book on parenting in general, and encouraged me not to pigeon hole the book as being only for non-custodial fathers.
They said that the strategies and suggestions in the book were appropriate and important for all parents; Moms and Dads alike.

Their point being that none of us as parents, especially first time parents, find that children come with an instruction manual and that any and every parent can benefit from the suggestions and strategies outlined in the book.

Fourth, a considerable number of the folks who purchased “Dad from a Distance” were actually step-moms whose goal was to help their husbands stay connected with their children but, interestingly, found that when they read the book themselves, discovered how they could help with (and in some cases had been unintentionally hindering) that connection/reconnection process.

Fifth, I discovered that parents in the military were drawn to the book especially those who were on deployment.
It never occurred to me that those parents might also find the tips and strategies in the book helpful for those families that are separated as one or both parents are serving our country.

Finally, one of the most interesting and unexpected responses came from the men who actually made up what was initially my intended target audience – non-custodial Fathers. And this response almost always came in a face to face setting at a book signing or other on location book selling venue.

Every single time I was in an on-site book selling venue this scenario played itself out:

I would be approached by a man, who passed by the table a couple of times, glancing over at the book and at me.

He usually waited to approach the table when there was no one else at the table or within range to hear us talk, and then he always leaned in, and looking at me directly, eye to eye, with not just a little intensity and in a low voice asked something like “What do you know about this?”

The message from these men was always totally clear, and I totally got it.

They wanted to know if I was speaking/writing from personal experience or was I just peddling my thoughts on something I didn’t really know about first hand.

For the men, it was all about legitimacy. They would not even touch the book until they had confirmed that I had been and/or was going through the same thing.

Once they realized that I had walked in their shoes, their shields dropped and we had some of the most heartfelt and revealing conversations you could ever imagine. And the depth of the anguish and frustration they felt was always palpable. They wanted me to know, or maybe just anyone to know, that they cared.

So what do I take from all of this, and why am I bothering you with it?

It reminds me that we – all of us – are constantly touching the lives of others in ways that we are not aware of and could never even imagine.

It also lets me know that a relaunch of “Dad from a Distance” should be and will be in the cards, thanks to the many people who cared enough to share their impressions, feedback, and opinions with me.


It started with Caesar Salad…

This recent dinner experience at a prominent hotel chain’s restaurant speaks for itself!

See if you can pick out how many things are wrong with this picture…

Me: “I think I’d like to start out with a Casar’s Salad…”

Waitress: “What kind of dressing would you like with that?”

* awkward silence *

Me: “What are my options?”

*waitress pauses to consider my question for a moment*

Waitress: “Pretty much Casar… That’s it.”

* awkward silence *

Me: “Ok. I’ll go with the Caesar dressing.”

Me: “I’d also like the crab cake appetizer.”

* waitress pauses for a moment *

Waitress: “You do realize that the crab cake appetizer is an appetizer, right?”

Me: “Ummm… yeah.”

Waitress: “Just making sure.”

*waitress departs, people at next table are crying with suppressed laughter*

* waitress returns approximately 10 minutes later *

Waitress: “Would you like something to drink?”

* Note: I’ve been at the table for about 20 minutes total before being asked about a drink selection *

Me: “What are your soft drink choices?”

Waitress: “We have a full bar so we pretty much have everything.”

Me: “Ok, I’ll have a Coke.”

Waitress: “We don’t serve Coke products.”

* I begin to look around for a hidden camera show crew *

After dinner was over, I thought it might be a good idea to bring this sequence of odd exchanges to the attention of the restaurant manager.

After relating the bizarre series of event between the waitress and I to the manager, you’re probably curious as to how he responded… Well here you are…

Manager: “Well she’s new.”

* Note: No apology… Instead, he chalks up (or justifies) this bizarre customer experience with the 2 word response: “She’s new.” *

* I pause for a moment *

Me: “I see… I suppose you are new, too!”

* Greg exits stage right *

Interestingly, the salad was delicious, the crab cakes were fantastic, and the setting was very tasteful and elegant.

Given all that, guess what my lasting memory of this particular evening will be?

Rhetorical question from me to you: “What are your customers blogging about your level of service?”

Customer Experience Matters!

Greg interviewed on WSAV

Greg is interviewed by WSAV News Anchor Kim Gusby on WSAV’s “Coastal Sunrise” morning news show.
The subject of the interview was Greg’s book “Dad from a Distance”.

WSAV is the NBC affiliate in Savannah, GA

Greg interviewed on WJCL/Fox 28

Greg was interviewed by Jessica Kiss, morning anchor of WJCL/Fox 28’s “The Morning Show” in Savannah, GA, the morning news show for the ABC/Fox affiliate.

The segment, titled “How to Be a Better Dad”, focused on strategies from Greg’s book “Dad from a Distance”.



To purchase your signed copy of “Dad from a Distance”, just click on the “Store” tab at the top of the page and we’ll get it out to you right away!