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It is always about the customer

The driver made it all about himself. His first reaction to the situation was to demonstrate that he was not at fault. He had followed procedure.

As the airport bus moved in and out of downtown traffic, an older passenger perched on the arm of the seat, looking nervously out the windows on one side of the bus, then on the other. At one stop, the driver approached the passenger, asking for the name of the hotel at which he wanted to disembark.

“That was our first stop,” the driver responded to the answer. “I announced it two times.”

“I may have missed that. I am a little hard of hearing.”
“We pass the hotel on the return trip. You can get off then,” the driver replied.

For some reason, the passenger decided to get off at the next hotel, telling the driver “I can get a taxi from here.” It may have been that the passenger had not heard the driver’s offer to stop at his hotel on the return trip. He may have been embarrassed by the situation. Maybe he didn’t want to inconvenience the driver and other passengers by causing an extra stop.

As the passenger dragged his six suitcases and boxes from the bus, the driver stood by, looking confused and helpless.

This small event demonstrates how many service providers respond to criticism or complaints. They immediately become defensive. Their first impulse is to show that they did the right things, citing company policy. For the driver, this meant announcing the name of each hotel as he approached it. It was not his fault that the passenger had not heard.

This “Don’t blame me” attitude is verbalized in many ways: “This is not my job.” “It must have happened when I wasn’t here.” “People in another department didn’t do what they were supposed to do.” “Didn’t you read the instructions?”

Most customers don’t care that the service provider has followed company policy or that someone else is to blame. What they do care about is that they have a problem and what you are going to do about it.

Organizations build customer loyalty by understanding this and working with the customer to reach a satisfactory resolution of the problem. They also understand that while the customer is frequently the source of the problem, they see no value in pointing this out. They maintain their focus on the customer and the problem until it is resolved.


Nelson Scott offers several Customer Service Presentations, including Customer Service MAGIC: Changing Complainers into Loyal Customers; What Your Mother Taught You About Customer Service and other Training Resources developed by Service Quality Institute and the Vital Learning Corporation.


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© Nelson Scott.  All rights reserved.

A professional trainer, speaker, and consultant since 1995, Nelson Scott works with organizations that are committed to making the right hiring decisions, developing and retaining productive staff, and strengthening relationships with customers.  Learn more by visiting or e-mailing


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