JUST99WORDS: The Service Secret

Posted by John G. Miller


David, a Rockwall, Texas Costco photo customer, shares the secret to winning him over forever:

My posters were done when promised. They took the time to retouch the images, removing every blemish. They did it without any request from me. No extra charge! The final product was beautiful. Guess who gets all of my photo business now?

So, is the secret … ?

  • “when promised”
  • “removed every blemish“
  • “no charge”
  • “beautiful”



“They did it without any request from me.”

Service, as defined in Outstanding!:

Doing something for another I didn’t have to do.

And who can’t do that?


Where have you received service like this?

Comment below!

Written to be read in under a minute, JUST99WORDS is a fast and snappy ”mini blog” by QBQ! author, John G. Miller. Sometimes practical, sometimes inspirational—and always worth sending on to colleagues, friends, and family!
If you’re not subscribed, join us here FREE!

JUST99WORDS: Outstanding Service

Posted by John G. Miller



I dropped my family at the San Diego airport and drove the mini-van to the Hertz facility. Once parked, I headed toward the Hertz bus. It was there that Candy (the driver standing outside the vehicle) demonstrated a billion dollars in customer service training:

Receiving a genuine smile and a warm “Welcome aboard!” clearly I was entering a 5 star hotel on wheels.

Minutes later, handing her a $5 tip, I asked, “Candy, has anyone thanked you for your smile today?”

She beamed.

And I thought, Being outstanding really is that simple.

Organizations, please—hire this, teach this.

Leave a comment below telling us about a “Candy” you’ve met!

*Written to be read in under a minute, JUST99WORDS is a fast and snappy “mini-blog” by QBQ! author, John G. Miller. Sometimes practical, sometimes inspirational—and always worth sending on to colleagues, friends, and family!
If you’re not subscribed, join us FREE here.

“Sorry, that’s our policy” = FAIL!

Posted by John G. Miller

Share your favorite “policies before people” story with us and maybe win an autographed copy of QBQ! The Question Behind the Question!

F grade

“Organizations that put polices before people fail everyone.” Outstanding!

Have you taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? The Millers have, and doing so has enabled us to better understand and relate to each other. Kristin is even certified to teach MBTI because there’s nothing more powerful than our QBQ! content on personal accountability combined with MBTI material in the same workshop. If you’re interested …

Anyway, if you do know Myers-Briggs, then you will know me without meeting me when I tell you my “type.” I’m an “ESTJ.” If you aren’t familiar with MBTI, stay with me here. You see …. (more…)

Ownership Is Outstanding!

Posted by John G. Miller

If you’ve read Outstanding!, then you know all about the “47 ways to make your organization exceptional.” If you haven’t, here’s the list.

Well, author’s prerogative—I’m adding a 48th:

Be Like Mike.

Our Colorado land-line and Internet provider is CenturyLink. They do a fine job for us, but I don’t go around raving about them. I have better things to do. However, I will take the time to extol the virtues of Mike, because people like him are the key to organizations being outstanding.


In the summer of 2012, Karen and I bought a “second home.” Yeah, I know, sounds snooty and uppity all at the same time. We didn’t plan to do it, but when we rented a house in Fraser, CO for a three day June get-away and saw that it was for sale, we asked, “Do we want to invest in this?”


So, we did. Overall, it’s been great, except for one thing: the DSL. Yes, even up in the mountains—I. Want. My. Internet! (more…)

Tend to the Little Things: “Above and Beyond” Customer Service

Posted by John G. Miller

I’ve engaged in cross-country travel for 17 years, and have spoken in each of our lower 48 states. I’ve stayed in so many hotels, they now sort of all look alike. I’m sure the hotel chain marketing execs who work hard to create “brand loyalty” would cringe at that, but it’s true. Truthfully, I’m not very hard to please. If my room has a bed, TV, running water, and a coffee pot—I am very happy.

But recently, I stayed at the South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island, Florida, and witnessed something I’ve never seen before. This:


Trust me, I didn’t fold them.

Now, the place wasn’t perfect. The room service was limited and an A/C unit in the bathroom ceiling dripped some water that I had to mop up—but I’d go back. Why? Well, the 78 degree temps in January help, but mostly because an unnamed housekeeping person went above and beyond.

When I saw those clothes on my extra bed that day, a gas station back home immediately came to mind.

Be Outstanding … Do Not Get Fired!

Posted by John G. Miller

We all know that organizations fire people, but as we say in Outstanding!, people fire organizations.

Recently, while conducting a “Be Outstanding!” day of training with a senior management team representing a well-known appliance manufacturer, I asked them to each identify an organization they’ve fired; that is, one they will never do business with again—and why. Every single person in the room had an example. Here are some:

  • Car dealer: Pushy salesperson using 1970’s strong arm closing tactics.
  • Hair salon: Stylist left chemicals in client’s hair too long while on cell phone. Hair had to be cut off!
  • Wireless carrier: Billed customer three times after payment made.
  • Fast food: Manager and assistant manager using foul language at counter.
  • Barber: New owner disregarded customer’s longtime loyalty, insisting he make an appointment.
  • Satellite TV: Complete and total apathy on phone regarding customer problem.
  • Doctor: Arrogance and haste, resulting in misdiagnosis of a child’s illness (not life-threatening).
  • Golf course: Comment made by employee that felt insulting to member.
  • Auto body shop: Overcharged … didn’t stay within the estimate.
  • Gas station: Cheap gas advertised outside but the price could only be obtained by paying inside—and maybe buying mints, coffee, and a newspaper.
  • Health club: Messy, dirty.
  • Tailor: Cold personality, condescending tone. Never greets customer.

I shared an example, too. I’ve fired a post office.

Where we live 15 miles northeast of Denver, Colorado, I can choose between four PO’s to use. That’s right—four. Some, of course, are closer than others. They are 9 miles south, 7 miles northwest, 5 miles west, and 10 miles north. And that northern one has a built-in logistical advantage for the Millers: It is only blocks from the school we take our kids to and pick them up from five days per week, thirty-six weeks per year, year in and year out. How convenient!

But I will never go back.

Why? Well, it’s hard to pinpoint, but let me try. Slow. Apathetic. Solemn. Lethargic.

Did I mention S-L-O-W???

I’ve felt this way for a long time, but a couple years ago I decided to risk it again on a Saturday. I had to get some books shipped that weekend and with other errands to run in town, I thought, Well, I’ll give the Brighton, Colorado P.O. another shot. How magnanimous of me!

And this I what I saw:


Never. Again.


Outstanding Service Lives!

Posted by John G. Miller

A longtime client and friend to QBQ! sent us this email. Completely in his own words, Kim Stephens shares this story. Outstanding service – it’s just not that complicated! Enjoy!

Hi, John!

My recent stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Boston-Raynham completely reminded me of Chapter 24 in Outstanding! and how great service is “doing something someone didn’t have to do.”

It started with an excellent and timely pre-arrival email from the front desk supervisor – Nathan – letting me know they wanted to exceed my expectations. But one thing Nathan did that made me feel important, and that he probably didn’t have to do, was to provide me with both his direct phone number and his personal email address.

I arrived at the hotel on Monday evening without my luggage. I guess the 1:45 delay f my connecting fight was not enough time for the airline to get my luggage transferred! But they guaranteed they would deliver it to the hotel the next day.

So the next afternoon, I slipped out of a meeting to call Nathan to see if it had arrived. After a quick check, he replied it had not arrived. He then asked me what time I expected to be back at the hotel and what airline I had flown. After telling him, he replied, “Don’t worry about a thing; I will personally contact the airline and make sure it is here by the time you arrive back tonight. If there is going to be any issue, I’ll call you back.” Wow, I thought, now that’s doing something he didn’t have to do! And it saved me the hassle of calling the airline and listening to all the recorded messages in the automated phone system before getting to someone that could help me. Eventually, my luggage was received.

Then, on the next day of my stay, I needed to get something notarized and immediately sent back to my home office. I went to the front desk where one of Nathan’s employees greeted me. I asked if there was a notary on staff at the hotel and she said she didn’t think so but would check to make sure. After confirming they did not, she said, “Let me see if I can find one for you close by.” She looked up the number of a nearby bank and called to see if they had a notary available, which they did. Wow, this is now the second time the hotel staff did something they didn’t have to do.

Well, needless to say, John, this hotel is Outstanding! I swear Nathan and his staff must have read your book and for sure Chapter 24 because they seemed to know about that flashing neon sign around my neck with 12-inch-high letters saying MAKE ME FEEL IMPORTANT! And Nathan and his staff definitely have “not forgotten who pays the bills”! If you ever get a chance to stay at this particular Courtyard, I would highly recommend it.


Kim Stephens, CPT 

Director of Training and Development

Schwan’s Consumer Brands

Accountability: Say It, Do It!

Posted by John G. Miller

The point of this missive is not to pick on a nice guy, but to show how easy it is to say, “I believe in accountability!”—and then not practice it.

A month ago we had a gent named Kyle, representing a large landscaping firm, come to our house to talk about a major project. Kyle is the general manager of the company and its many employees. This is no “mom and pop” shop.

As this likeable fella and I chatted—and connected—he asked what I do for a living. I told him I’m an author of books about personal accountability. His immediate response was, “Well, that’s the way I raise my kids. It’s all about being responsible, ‘ya know!” I said, “Really? That’s terrific. Good for you. It’s the only way to live.”

Fast forward one month.

His crew was supposed to arrive and get to work yesterday morning at 8 AM. In response to my email around 10 AM, he said it would now be 1 PM. At 5:00 PM nobody had shown up and when I emailed Kyle, this smart-phone-to-smart-phone dialogue took place:

Kyle the Supplier:  “In a mtg. Be there in the morning.”

John the Customer: “But what happened to today???”

Kyle the Supplier: “The day got away from us; finishing up on another project.”

John the Customer: “A phone call to let me know would’ve been nice.”

Kyle the Supplier: “Been in the mtg all afternoon with my cell turned off.”

While the customer with cash in hand waited the entire day …

Excuse-making, it’s one of the easiest things to do. Excuses are like pounds of fat on the body: They creep into our life. Until one day, when we look in the mirror hard with the keen eye of self-awareness and see them.

And the affect they have on our lives.

People who truly understand and practice personal accountability are extremely aware of the excuses that can slip easily from ones mouth. Accountable people are vigilant and diligent about not making any. In fact, they consistently avoid excuses by developing the emotionally mature reflex action—let’s call it a “habit”—of saying, “I’m sorry. I could’ve done better” or some pithy variation of that statement.

And now, as I reread this post, the words, “There but for the grace of God go I” come to mind.

Excuses. Have I made any lately?

PS: Recent (August 20th) interview on Parenting the QBQ Way.



Personal Accountability … Bengy Style!

Posted by John G. Miller

Personal Accountability … Bengy Style!

Need to buy a car? If so, then here’s where you go:

Mountain States Toyota, Denver, Colorado.

Why? Because they are outstanding!

Ask for Bengy Martinez—the happy salesperson with the big smile (email him at Bengy.Martinez@mountainstatestoyota.com). Let me tell you, Bengy is a star. And like every star, he has a supporting cast. In his case, sales manager, Matt Marr, and General Manager, Tim VanBinsbergen.

Some background: My wife, Karen, and I were not planning to buy two new vehicles this year, but a horrific May hailstorm—like none we’ve ever seen in our dozen Denver years—destroyed her Honda Odyssey mini-van and my fav “candy red” Toyota Tacoma longbed!

So, long story short, off to Mountain States we went, because we’d bought there before and have always been treated with dignity and respect. Well, low and behold there was a “pre-owned” (back in the day we called them “used”) Nissan Xterra for me—almost candy red—and another Odyssey van for Karen.

We bought. And all was well.

A few days later, I noticed the Odyssey’s back right tire looking soft, so I put some air in it. Honestly, I never thought much about it, until a June Saturday evening when our 22-year-old son, Michael, drove Mom and Dad to the Denver Int’l Airport to fly out for that long-planned cruise from Seattle to Alaska to celebrate our 30th. It was then on busy Peña Ave.—the only highway into DIA—we heard a “bam!” and a “bonk” and pulled over to find a flat tire. Yep, right side, rear.

Stupid! I thought. Should’ve gotten that tire fixed!

Decision time: Change the tire on the shoulder, call for a tow from the roadside, or try to go two more miles to DIA and let Mike handle it all. But Mike spoke up with, “Come on, Dad, let’s change the tire.”

“Oh, fine.” I responded, with absolutely no heart in it.

But then—wait for it—the problem that would lead to Bengy, Matt, and Tim becoming heroes presented itself.

There was no spare. Nor was there a Honda-specific tool to remove the wheel lugnuts.

My first thought was, I know it’s a used car that we purchased “as is,” but who sells a car with no spare and no lugnut wrench!?!?

So while calling for a tow truck, we limped on to the airport. Once there, we hugged Mike goodbye and headed to our gate. Fun way to begin the trip!

The next day, before we left Port Seattle, I emailed Bengy this note (abbreviated):

“Bengy, we bought the Odyssey from you and it had a bad back right tire from the start which blew out last night as Karen and I were being driven to the airport. We had to have the car towed to our home where it sits. Karen and I are now heading to Alaska and I’d like to ask what can you do for us? It’s not normal to sell an expensive vehicle without a spare and no way to remove the lugnuts, is it!? Thank you!”

After I sent my polite, frustration-laced note, I feared Bengy and Cast had only three choices:

1. Apathy. Do nothing.

2. Point fingers at the prior owner who kept the spare tire or at the “other department” who took the car into the dealership and didn’t check for a spare. And then do nothing.

3. Do something to help us, but charge us.

I did not really think there was a fourth choice, but that’s what outstanding organizations and people are all about:

Surprising and delighting the customer!

This, of course, causes the customer to send out a QBQ! QuickNote to 28,574 people. It also prevents customers from firing the organization!

So there we were, enjoying life on the “high seas” while the problem back in Colorado was getting solved. As Mountain States Toyota moved fast to excel, son Michael later texted me a suggestion: “Dad, you should write this story up as a QuickNote!” As a father, just that observation makes me proud, because we can’t be outstanding, till we can see outstanding. I’m glad he saw it.

So, what was Bengy’s solution? Mid week, a tow truck was sent 18 miles to our home to pick up the car, tow it to the shop, and repair the tire. Cool, right? But then, on that Saturday night, Bengy, the sales guy, personally drove Karen’s van to our home, parking it in our driveway. When we arrived home Sunday, there it was—ready for “Mom use.”

The next day, joyful, helpful Bengy told me, “Finding your house in the dark out in the boonies was not an easy trick. I bet I passed it five times before I knew it was yours! But, no biggie—glad we got it to you!”

That’s Bengy, a happy guy who loves to serve—and sell cars. And that’s a good thing, since most of us need one.

Oh, and guess what? I later found out that the Odyssey model we have does not come equipped with a spare. This makes Mountain States’ actions even more impressive. Clearly, they could’ve said, “Sorry, not our problem!”

So, do you need a car? If so, go to Bengy and see what personal accountability and outstanding service look like wrapped in a really big smile.

John G. Miller
Author of …

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question®
Flipping the Switch … Unleash the Power of Personal Accountability
Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional