The Customer as Valentine: A Generous Heart

customer loveAllowances were not something my dad believed taught kids a strong work ethic.  So, I had to work for all my spending money.  Living in a rural area, there were not a lot of paying chores for kids…except for baby-sitting and lawn mowing.   My sister baby-sat; I mowed yards.  I got a dollar for a regular-sized yard and two dollars for a large yard.  And, my grandmother had a two-dollar yard!

One summer we had a drought where I lived.  It did not impact the babysitting for my sister but it hit my paying chores in a large way.  Yards did not grow much so I was looking at pretty bleak school year in terms of spending money.  Towards the end of that summer, my grandmother called and wanted me to come mow her yard.  I was super thrilled!

As always, I mowed her large yard and met her on her back porch to get my two dollars.  But, I got a big surprise.  She handed me five-dollar bill and said the most wonderful words I had ever heard…”Keep the change!”  And, it did change my relationship with my grandmother.  A relationship I kept until she died in her mid-eighties.

One by-product of innovative service is not just keeping a customer, but changing their feelings about the organization from pleased to thrilled; from passively retained to an active advocate.  One powerful route to your customer’s heart is a generous attitude–the type that leaves customer surprised, not just happy. Now, few organizations can provide customers a 150% tip like my grandmother.  While the economics of a ten-year old’s piggy bank are important, it was her abundant generosity that created the warm memory of our relationship.

Last week I purchased a sandwich and drink at a McDonald’s.  The charge came to $4.01.  After I handed the server $5.00 (I did not have a penny), she reached in her pocket, took out a penny, put it in the cash drawer and handed me back a dollar!  I was totally surprised.  That kind of abundance might normally happen at a Ritz-Carlton hotel or a Nordstrom, but this was a high school kid at a Mickey D’s!

Unexpected generosity is infectious. Give your customers more than they expect and more than you expect will come back to you!

Add Your Response


Never miss a post! Sign up to have future posts delivered to your inbox:


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.


More on Chip