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  Service Stars

A bus driver who smiled, offered advice, and kept riders updated (and recovered his company’s image)

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.

Considered in isolation, the service that Martin provided would be noteworthy.  When compared to our earlier experience, how Martin did things was remarkable.

When we had arrived at Toronto’s Pearson Airport the previous day, the driver of the Airport Express bus in which we travelled to our downtown hotel appeared rushed and apparently behind schedule.  He snatched suitcases from passengers and tossed them into the bus.  Without waiting for passengers to be seated, he jerked his bus into motion.

Coming to a stop on a downtown street, he announced our hotel.  As I disembarked I saw nothing that resembled a hotel lobby.  My inquiry about the hotel’s location elicited a gesture towards some buildings on the opposite side of the street.  Apparently one was our hotel.

Checking out the next day, we pulled our bags across the street to wait for the bus that would return us to the airport to resume our trip.  Minutes later, the airport bus rounded a corner and came to a stop.  The driver, a smile on his face, stepped from the bus.

He greeted us with what amounted to an apology.  Ours was the first pickup point and we would be on the bus for more than an hour before reaching the airport.  “Usually, I tell riders to get on at the [nearby] Sheraton.  The pick-up time there is later and you don’t have to be on the bus as long.”

This concern for riders’ comfort continued throughout the trip.  As it was a holiday, traffic in downtown Toronto was lighter than usual and Martin was soon ahead of schedule.  “We will have to wait here for eight minutes to get back on schedule,” he explained as we stopped in front of one hotel.

As we continued from one hotel to the next, Martin kept us informed of our progress.  “Just three more hotels before we are on our way to the airport.”

As we stood in front of the terminal, Martin handed us our suitcases and wished us a pleasant flight.  I hope the tip I slipped into his hand reflected both my appreciation for what he did and the difference in the quality of service we had received.  What a shame that Martin wasn’t the one who welcomed us to Toronto.


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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