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  Service Stars

A garbage collector who took a few extra steps

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.

Around home, it is my job to look after the garbage.  Sometime each Thursday, I take what I have collected from wastebaskets throughout the house to the containers by the garage and then drag those to the curb.  Shortly after 7:30 the next morning, a truck appears and the garbage disappears.

That’s pretty well all there is to it.  The system works and as with most things that work, I didn’t give it much thought until this past Canada Day, which happened to fall on a Friday.

As it is a holiday, I assumed I would have a reprieve from my weekly duty.  While I sat in the living room sipping a cup of tea that July 1 morning, I was surprised on looking out to see the garbage truck coming down the street.  When it reached our driveway, the truck stopped.  The driver stepped out, walked up our sidewalk to a garbage can that I had partly filled while weeding the flower bed the day before.  When he reached the container, he removed a gardening tool I had left in it, carried the container to the curb and emptied it into the truck.  As he did this, I opened the front door, stepped out and called,  “I thought you would have the day off.”

“No.  They felt that there would be too much of a backlog for next week,” he responded, before continuing his journey down the street to where some neighbours had placed garbage containers by the curb.

Witnessing this example of service that went beyond, I recalled an episode a few years earlier.  Due to roadwork that summer, there were often delays for traffic leaving the subdivision.  During one such delay I found myself waiting two cars back of a garbage truck.

As I waited, I noticed the driver leave his truck and and begin to pick up litter that had accumulated on the greenbelt next to the street.  Here was another example of someone from the Municipality’s garbage collection staff doing that little extra that moves service from the expected to the noteworthy.


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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