Letter from the President: Let's Be Difference Makers

February 2016

Hi FSE Team, Happy New Year!

Christel Skorup, our HR Director, gave me a little book, titled "The Simple Truths of Service," written by Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz. This book is filled with stories of how ordinary people devised plans of exceptional, caring service in their workplace. The book is inspired by the story of Johnny the Bagger who took to heart Barbara's challenge to create meaningful memories for his customers. I would like to share this story with all of you. Barbara Glanz writes:

"A few years ago I was leading a customer service session for a large supermarket chain where I had the opportunity to speak to a crowd of 3,000 frontline service people – truck drivers, cashiers, baggers, produce people, stockers, floral specialists, bakers, and others.

During the course of my presentation, I said, 'Every one of you can make a difference and create meaningful memories for your customers that will motivate them to come back. How? Go home tonight and think about something you can do for your customers to make them feel special – a memory that will make them want to come back and shop at your store again.'

I always leave my telephone number and e-mail address with audiences, encouraging them to call me if they have questions or want to share a success story they experienced by adding a personal signature to their work. About a month after I had spoken to the supermarket folks, I received a call from a frontline customer contact person, a nineteen-year-old bagger named Johnny. The caller, who proudly informed me that he was a Down syndrome youngster, told me his story.

'Barbara, I liked what you talked about!' Johnny said excitedly, 'but I didn't think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I'm just a bagger. Then I had an idea.' He decided that every night when he came home from work, he would find a thought for the day. 'If I can't find a saying I like,' Johnny said proudly, 'I think one up!'

When Johnny had a good saying, his dad helped him enter his Thought for the Day six times on a page in the computer. Every night they printed out fifty pages. Johnny cut out each quote and signed his name on the back of every one of them. 'Then I put them in a paper bag I keep beside me at work,' he continued. 'When I finish bagging someone's groceries, I put my Thought for the Day in their bag and say, thanks for shopping with us.'

It touched me to think that this young man – with a job that most people would say is not important – had made it important by creating precious memories for all his customers. A month later the store manager called me. He said, 'Barbara, you won't believe what happened today. When I was making my rounds and got up front where the cashiers are, I found the line at Johnny's checkout was three times longer than anyone else's! It went all the way down the frozen food aisle. I was concerned, so I announced, 'Get more cashiers out here; get more lanes open!' all the while trying to get people to change lanes. But no one would move. They all said. 'No, it's okay – we want to be in Johnny's lane – we want his Thought for the Day.

The store manager continued, 'It was a joy to watch Johnny delight the customers. I got a lump in my throat when one woman came up and grabbed my hand and said, 'I used to shop at your store only once a week, but now I come in every time I go by, because I want to get Johnny's Thought for the Day.''I imagine that helps the bottom line,' I said to the manager. 'You bet!' he replied."

Excerpt from "The Simple Truths of Service," Blanchard & Glanz, 2005.

Johnny's excellent service with exceptional care spread throughout the workplace and resulted in many other departments employing small intentional acts of service to create a memorable experience for the store's clients. Johnny was indeed what we, at FSE, like to describe as a "Positive Person, Providing Excellent Service, with Exceptional Care."

The power to please our clients with memorable service lies within each one of us regardless of where we believe ourselves to be on the organizational chart. Mother Theresa said, "Small things done with great love can change the world." Allow me to restate this with an application to our business as, "Good service with exceptional care can change our workplace." Stay positive and launch yourself into serving our clients with exceptional care. It is the "wow" factor that stays in their minds for a long time.

Blessings to you and your families in 2016; you have my highest regard.

Ken Dickerson