Being Best


I drive a 2001 Toyota Highlander and recently clocked 200,000 miles on it. I’ve never had a car for this long. Sure, a new car would be nice, but this SUV suits me just fine.

I bought it at North Hollywood Toyota – and, no, this isn’t a paid advertisement! For much of the time, Julio has been my service rep. He’s friendly; he’s taken the time to get to know me; and, hey, he appreciates my twisted sense of humor.

Okay, so actually we bonded over a crazy woman who yelled at me one day when I’d brought the car in for servicing. She told me to stay away from her and I was mortified. I was convinced they wouldn’t let me on the property again! Turns out, I wasn’t the only man she mistook for her hated ex-husband and I wasn’t the first hapless customer she’d yelled at.

I know nothing about cars, but I do know that I’ve got 200,000 miles on my car because I’ve listened to Julio’s recommendations these many years. I’ve learned to trust him.

I’m often asked to speak to companies about customer service. On Amazon, you can find over 93,000 books (!) on the topic of “customer service.” That’s a lot of writing about a topic that, in its essence, is a no-brainer. We talk a lot about “good” customer care vs. “great” customer care. I’d argue, though, that real care is always great care and that’s what Julio gives me. What makes it great? How I feel when I give him the keys to my car — I don’t worry. There’s no better feeling.

I was reminded of this last week when I went in for an oil change. I also was reminded of the flip side of customer care – being a customer who cares.

I observed people come in to the service department stressed, unsmiling, abrupt, and snapping, “How much?” “When?” “I need it sooner!” They were customers who showed little respect for the service reps. How easy it is to treat a rep as an “it” and not a person with a name.

Although these customers most likely experienced being treated as an “it” sometime that week at their own work, it doesn’t excuse rudeness.

Here’s the thing – when I go to Julio, to the supermarket, to the cleaners, or to one of my workshops, it doesn’t matter how I feel because how I feel is not the “problem” of any one of those people. My feelings are my responsibility.

People who offer me service deserve my best because I deserve their best – and “best” is contagious. That’s what Julio reminded me.

How generous are you with your “best”?

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Follow me on Twitter: @jprweddings

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