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Stu Leonard’s Secret for Great Customer Service

Culture / Customer Service / customer service training
Stu Leonard’s Secret for Great Customer Service

At the front entrance of Stu Leonard’s Grocery Store stands a large boulder. Engraved in the boulder are these words:

“Our Policy

Rule 1: The customer is always right!

Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read rule 1″

This inscription in stone illustrates the attitude needed for exceptional customer service. Stu Leonard has successfully transformed their policy into action to over 100,000 weekly customers. Stu Leonard’s reputation for exceptional customer service has gained both international recognition and profits.

Businesses can no longer compete strictly on price of goods and services alone. The next decade will be a battleground with few winners. It will be a time of intense competition and the winners will be the ones who know exactly what they are doing.

The primary competitive advantage of this century is in the speed in which you meet your customers needs. The recipe for exceptional customer service boils down to a few basic ingredients. Some of those ingredients are flexibility, friendliness, speed, and exceeding customer needs and expectations. . .lots of little things that make tremendous differences.

Blue Willow Inn is one hour west of Atlanta in Social Circle, Georgia. Friends decided to eat at this antebellum restaurant that they had heard so much about. Food was on the table when they overheard Vivian, the waitress, tell guests at another table that they didn’t accept credit cards. My friends panicked when they realized that they might not have enough cash to pay for their meal. They asked Vivian if what they heard was true.

She confirmed the fact; no, they didn’t accept credit cards; but Vivian quickly countered with this statement. “Don’t let that ruin your meal. You see I have my own money and I will pay for your meal.” She opened her purse and she showed them her cash. My friends were in shock and couldn’t believe what they just heard. The waitress was going to pay for their meal! They will never forget Vivian or the Blue Willow Inn.


If you are going to survive as a customer business, you are going to have to provide unequaled customer service, no exceptions. Right or wrong, the customer is always right. The result will be greater satisfaction for both workers and customers and an exceptional bottom line. Here are some key points to keep in mind.

  • Build a long-term relationship with your customers, not a one-night stand. Call your customers on the phone or stand at the door as they are leaving. Ask them how they were treated, what you could have done better. Will they return to buy something else?
  • Pretend you are the customer and evaluate your own business. Use a telephone and call your business up. How long does it take to get an answer? How are you handled? Do they use your first name? Did they make you feel welcome or were you treated like a nuisance?
  • Measure what’s important to your customers. The customer, not management, decides what exceptional service is. Identify what they need and expect and develop a system to show how well you are doing in each area that is important to your customers.
  • Use the Internet. Can you provide sales, service or information on the internet? More and more people are using the web for everything from fine wines to contact lenses.
  • Handle all customer complaints with enthusiasm. For every one complaint there are at least 10 other customers that visited your business who have the same complaint. A portion of the 10 just took their business to your competitor. If you solve the problem, you will have a more loyal customer.
  • Build loyal employees. The front-line person is the most important person in your organization. Treat them like the way you treat your customers. We all know how difficult it is to find and keep good workers. If they feel management cares about them, they will reflect the same respect to your customers.
  • Use “hero awards.” Make heroes out of your customer service people and allow coworkers to reward each other for doing a good job.
  • Provide a customer service guarantee that excites people. Customers are sick of loopholes and limited warranties. People are tired of hassles and long lines and forms to fill out. Sure, there will be people who will take advantage of you, but the trade-off is a lot more people who will buy, visit, tell their friends about and spend their money on you and not on your competitor.
  • Don’t stop; continuously improve all areas relating to customer service. The competition never stops, neither should you. Evaluate and visit other good businesses and see what they are doing.

Learn more about our customer service training programs.

Learn more about Stu Leonard’s

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