The thing Willie Nelson taught me about customer service

Willie Nelson know customer serviceIt was just me, a pen, and a pad of paper, sitting quietly a dimly-lit hotel room. It was a couple hours before I would be facilitating a customer service session with leaders from a major medical facility in Anchorage and I was struggling to find the missing ingredient that would tie everything together.

Ugh. I was frustrated. I felt like I was so close to having a great talk on my hands…but I was missing something.

And then, inexplicably, Willie Nelson’s “You Were Always On My Mind,” started playing inside my head. But why?

I pulled out my phone and searched for a performance of the song. As Willie sang I knew I had found the key.

The song tells the story of someone who has not paid enough attention to their lover and is now facing the possibility of losing the person that was always on their mind. That sounds analogous to something that happens between organizations and the people they serve.

It can be so easy to take for granted the people who are closest to us, be it a spouse, a child, a lifelong friend…or a customer. We often fail to demonstrate how much we care because we assume they know, or that we can tell them tomorrow. I learned firsthand in the fall of 2009 that customers who don’t feel cared for will find a new place to do business. Hearing Willie sing reminded me so much of how I felt during that time and I knew the song would be an incredibly valuable and visceral example for the leaders with whom I would be sharing.

Hopefully it is a valuable and visceral example for you as well.

Tomorrow is too late to take unusually good care of the people you serve. Tomorrow is too late to let them know how much you appreciate them and how much you enjoy working with them. Tomorrow is too late to let them know they were always on your mind.