What We Have Here Is a Failure to Practice PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY

Amanda - Tony's bride - thumbing for a ride!

Amanda – Tony’s bride – thumbing for a ride!

Tony, a QBQ! training distributor for ten years, just retired. We were proud to have him on our team for many reasons. One of those reasons is … he gets it.

Enjoy his “lousy customer service” story! 

John, on my son, Tony’s, big day, the wedding party of 11 was picked up in a stretch limo for the hour ride to the ceremony location. Right away we noticed the vehicle’s air conditioning wasn’t working well and within minutes the driver pulled over to the shoulder of the busy 4-lane highway because …

The engine was smoking!

Wondering what was happening, we all climbed out.

Spirits were high, though, as the wedding photographer started snapping shots of Amanda the bride “thumbing for a ride” in her wedding dress. Drivers honked, smiled, and waved.

However, it was an hour before a grumpy guy arrived from the car service firm in a small van. He poured antifreeze and water into the limo’s radiator but—to our amazement—the liquid ran out onto the pavement!

That’s when we really knew we had a problem.

The eleven of us then climbed into the van—that had only ten seats—and headed to the ceremony. 

Upon arriving, the bride and groom asked the van driver to return in two hours with a limo that could seat everyone comfortably for the ride to downtown Washington, D.C. for the wedding dinner.

At the appointed time, he returned, but with the same small van. Though no “stretch” was coming, he informed us, another van was en route to ease the crowding.

However, it was stuck in traffic.

We waited …

Finally, with no ETA provided by the transportation company, my son and his new wife fired the limo company, adding they did not expect to pay for the “service” rendered. 

The driver’s response?


Several in our party started making calls and another car provider was found, quickly dispatching a fine limo capable of seating everyone in style. We arrived at the restaurant hours behind schedule, but found the staff there to be understanding, and the meal outstanding.

A fun time was had by a very tired wedding party!

As this experience unfolded, I kept thinking—after selling the QBQ! training system and its message of personal accountability to my clients for years—what’s The Question Behind the Question for the original limo company and its staff? There are many, but this one sums it up:

“What can I do to solve this problem and make my customer happy?!”

So simple, so accountable, so powerful—but nobody was asking that QBQ. They simply showed no responsibility for their mechanically-challenged limo or for failing to have a back-up plan.

I also noted that the entire wedding party was abuzz about the poor service and—believe you me—everyone at the wedding site and the restaurant heard the story.

An organization’s reputation—good or bad—is made by the actions and attitudes of its people!

When I told an old friend about our experience the following day, he asked, “What’s the original limo company’s name and what’s the name of the one that saved the day?”

After telling him, I asked why he cared to know the specifics. His response is key. He said he wanted to be certain to NEVER use the one that provided the lousy service and to be sure to hire the organization that took care of us!

It really is just this simple: Take care of your customers and they’ll take care of you.

Yes, Tony gets it, he really does. What he gets isn’t new, just true:

People fire organizations, but they don’t fire the outstanding ones!

Is your organization outstanding?

If you are a self-employed, independent trainer/consultant who would like to explore becoming a distributor of the QBQ! training program, inquire here.

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8 Responses

  1. Wow! I really enjoyed this story but not for the reasons you may think! Stories of poor service are a dime a dozen but what is truly unique is the bridal party’s reaction to the situation. They truly embodied the spirit of QBQ! When the limo broke down on the side of the road they asked “What can we do to make this situation less upsetting?” and were rewarded with unique and memorable photographs! When again the limo company let them down by showing up with the same small van they asked “What can we do to improve the situation?” and quickly found another company that was able to serve their needs. The reaction of this bridal party took what could have been an awful experience that ruined their day and turned it into a funny anecdote with real life solutions. Kudos to them!

  2. John:
    This story had me thinking about a trip I took last year. It was an AMA Waterways trip starting with 3 days in Istanbul, a day in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 7 days on the Danube on a river cruise, and two days in Budapest. Driving in a large air-conditioned 56 passenger bus from Plovdiv, Bulgaria to Rousse, Bulgaria, our bus encountered a flat tire in rural Bulgaria. The driver, in attempting to pull over, turned the wheel and broke the rim and brake on that wheel. So we were stuck in the middle of Bulgaria. We waited 3 hours for another bus to take us to the river cruise ship. That might seem like a long time, but AMA got a replacement bus, similar to the luxury air-conditioned bus we were on, with a driver in three hours. The bus and driver came from Sofia, Bulgaria, 90 minutes away. AMA had to call the bus company, and the bus company had to ready a spare bus, and a bus driver and get them on the road in 1.5 hours in order to get to us 1.5 hours later! In rural Bulgaria! Now that is customer service, on the part of AMA and their vendor and everyone taking the personal responsibility to handle this unexpected event and making it a priority for the tired people who were on the bus just wanting to get to their river cruise ship and relax. All on the bus were grateful for the people involved who minimized our delay.

  3. I remember working for a company when my job required working with a lot of other teams within the company. I was always frustrated when I would reach out to someone for help and their response was, “I don’t know.” – I understand they might not know but the killer is when they thought that was the end of the conversation. “I don’t know but I will find out” goes a long way.

  4. This story simply expressed the most important part of consumer behavior. On the one hand, consumers hope to get good service; On the other hand, the enterprise wants to consumers give the praise and support. So it is clear that all of these are interacting. We draw a conclusion from the story, “What can I do to solve this problem and make my customer happy?!” How many companys really achieve this goal? Enterprises not only need to be able to meet customer demand, but also better to the pursuit of excellence. Enterprise’s idea is not to get more profit, but to explore how to help customers better. This is an attitude, is also the key to determine success or failure. What if companies are like the kindergarten, and the customer as a child, attentive caress patiently. May things become easier. Finally want to say, business is just like that.

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