Are Your Customers ‘Gluten Intolerant’?

My brother and his wife and their two grown children with spouses and children are spending the weekend with us. With my reputation as Mr. Customer Service on the line, we want to be the “hostess with the mostest.” My brother’s son-in-law is gluten intolerant. It carries special exceptions when planning all meals. And, it has driven us to sections of the grocery store we never visit.


We have learned a lot about this culinary restriction. There is such a thing as gluten-free bread. Sounds to me more like alcohol-free bourbon; what’s the point?! But, I have tried to not judge; gluten intolerance is serious business if you happen to be so unlucky. Cheerios are gluten-free. Most everything else we normally eat contains some form of wheat, oats, barley or rye. Gluten can be hiding in salad dressings, sauces, spices, soup mixes, crackers, desserts, chewing gum and even the glue on the envelop you lick.


Customers have peculiarities and idiosyncrasies. When serving them, we cannot paint them all with the same brush. As a guest at a hotel I enjoy checking in at the front desk so I can build a relationship with the front desk clerk; my business partner prefers express check-in and his smartphone app that allows him to bypass any conversation and go straight to his guest room. I like the aisle seat on a flight; my wife wants the window.


“Gluten intolerant” is a metaphor for the importance of personalization when serving customers. “One size fits all” completely misses the rich diversity of your target audience. Don’t serve your customers like you want to be served; serve them like they want to be served.

For a deeper look at personalization of your customer service, I invite you to click to Calling Your Customer’s Name.

Image via Pexels at Pixabay.


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Dr. Chip R. Bell is a world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and innovative service. Global Gurus ranked him in 2018 the #2 keynote speaker in the world on customer service; #1 in North America. He also is the author of numerous national and international best-selling books including Take Their Breath Away, Managing Knock Your Socks off Service, Magnetic Service, The 9½ Principles of Innovative Service and Customers as Partners. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages.

His newest customer service book is the award-winning, best-selling book Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.

Dr. Bell has appeared live on CNBC, Bloomberg TV, CNN, Fox Business, ABC, CBS, NPR Marketplace and his work has been featured in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Inc. Magazine, and Fast Company.


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