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  Service Stars

A pet store clerk who improvised to meet a customer’s need

Satisfactory customer service is seldom memorable. What is memorable is poor service and service that goes the extra mile. Sometimes it only takes a small gesture to change a routine customer service experience into one we will recall months later, we will tell others about and will cause us to become repeat customers. Those who do those little extras are truly Service Stars.

It was definitely the wrong type of hardware for a dog tether during a northern Alberta winter.  Rather than snapping onto the dog’s collar, the clip had a bolt mechanism that froze when the weather was particularly cold.  Before the dog could be attached to the tether, the bolt had to be warmed so it could slide back and forth.  The easiest way to warm the clip was to hold it in a bare hand for half a minute.  Not an experience to relish at -37.

There was no disappointment in my heart when the hardware broke.  Off I went to the North Star Pet Centre in search of a new tether with winter-friendly hardware.

Katie was restocking shelves when I approached her for directions.  She stood, turned towards me and listened to my request.  “Let me just get rid of these,” she said, dumping an armful of merchandise on a nearby empty shelf.  Merchandise could wait while she served her customer.

She led the way to where tethers were displayed.  I described the type of fastening device I wanted.  She showed me several tethers, of different lengths, all with the hardware I preferred. 

“How big is your dog?” she asked.  I replied he weighed about 100 pounds.  Unfortunately, all the tethers she had showed me were for smaller dogs.  Those for larger breeds all came with the offending hardware.

Katie had an idea.  She disappeared for a moment, returning with a separate clip of the type I wanted and a connector with which to join it to a tether that came with the wrong hardware.

By taking time to understand my request, Katie was able to match a product to my need.  The result was a happy dog that was no longer confined to his pen and a happier owner who no longer had to press frigid metal into his palm.


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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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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