Where Does Innovative Service Begin?

I am grateful that Chip Bell shared a book (The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service) with the world that fits in well with these harried first few weeks of school (for those of us in the U.S. south, at least!). In addition to the start of school, I have also been juggling a procurement at work, a freelance editing project, a father-in-law with health challenges, and various demands of life that all seem to be screaming, “If you haven’t noticed, summer is over!!” This book is readable, piercing in its intensity, and positive.

Innovative Service

As I was considering incidents in my life that exemplified the service Chip highlights, I kept going back to the pharmacy staff at the Publix used by my in-laws. Due to a stroke and some other complications, my father-in-law is on a lot of medications. My mother-in-law has her share of prescriptions, too. They are “regulars” at that pharmacy. One day, my father-in-law had already been driven to Publix to pick up the latest refills (he no longer drives), only to discover upon getting home that one needed medication was not there. When my mother-in-law called to ask about it, they noted that it was now ready. “But I can’t get to Publix now,” she shared (she is blind and does not drive either). A staff person from Publix delivered the medication to their home.


But I witnessed something else at a different Publix today (I spend a lot of time at Publix!) that I just have to share. It may be a stretch to work it in to a blog about innovative service but let’s see if there’s a way.

A parent was berating her son. I didn’t look closely but I think the child was somewhere between 15 and 20. Apparently she had been trying to call him via cell phone in a different section of the store and he had not answered quickly enough. She was being so angry and loud that I honestly was wondering if I was on one of those shows like “What Would You Do?” that was assessing if people would step in and intervene if a child was being verbally abused. The line I remember most was:

“You are about as ignorant as can be.”

Now, I have my own “confrontation in Publix” story that doesn’t put me in a nice light at all. It is such a traumatic story that it hasn’t yet seen the light of day (and it happened when my high school freshman was in kindergarten). I also know that parenting is stressful and I do not walk in this lady’s shoes. All I know is being treated like that (and whatever happens at home out of public earshot) isn’t the kind of stepping stone that a human being needs to grow into someone who provides “innovative service.”

In his chapter called “The Fly-Fishing Principle,” Chip Bell quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

My heart still hurts vicariously for the kid who tonight was told “you’re as ignorant as can be.” As a parent, as a member of teams of various kinds, as someone who has supervised people, I am reminded that respect starts early. Before innovative service shows up at the office or on the showroom floor, some parent, babysitter, or caring adult takes the time to demonstrate it long before ROI is even a consideration. Thank you, Chip Bell, for a book that reminds us just how far respect can go if we incubate it lovingly in the first place.

Source: The Shelby Report

Source: The Shelby Report

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.


Ready ……. Set …… Find Courtesy On Aisle Nine …. Go!

Image: Bing Images

It is not all that unusual here in Tallahassee to see a bus like the one pictured above parked directly in front of the entrance to Publix (our grocery store, whose motto is “Where Shopping is a Pleasure”). The buses I see are usually delivering a group of residents who live at a local retirement home, so they can do some grocery shopping.

The bus I am blogging about was different. It was the wrong time for the retirement-home crowd – a Sunday evening (you know, that time of the night when your Monday-itis is already starting to flare and you’ve still got a couple of loads of laundry to do and some children’s homework to check if you can just pick up something quick for dinner). And the demographics of the group pouring out of the bus (which turns out to have been a limo bus) were quite different.

The activity level was sky high as children streamed off of the bus. I heard one of the adults say, “8 year old birthday party – we’re exhausted.” Hmm, I thought – they must have had to pick up a few grocery items and asked the “party bus” to stop quickly so the adults could run in for bread and milk. I was not yet “getting” why all the children had gotten off the limo bus.

Then I walked into Publix and the running/screaming/banshee wails ensued.

I later learned (from a Publix employee) that the kids were on a “scavenger hunt” and Publix was one of the places where they had to procure something on their hunt list.

I thought I could get my reaction out of my system by a tweet that evening that essentially said “Hm, shopping at Publix not that much of a pleasure tonight with the scavenger hunt screamers.” Interestingly enough, the follow up conversations I had centered around the limo part –  not the running/screaming part.

Maybe I am turning into one of those curmudgeonly people I never wanted to be. Maybe I have lost the thrill of spontaneity as it applies to children’s birthday joy. Maybe I’m jealous that someone could afford a limo for their 8 year old’s birthday celebration. Maybe the part of me that always tends to ask permission first rather than forgiveness later is just aghast.

My daughter participated in a methodically well-organized mall scavenger hunt once that was adorable … and loaded with adults to supervise the “teams.” I don’t really have any problem with that (and she had a blast without irritating other shoppers or retailers).

But it just bugs me that a parent would unleash that kind of nuttiness in a grocery store*. There were safety issues with the running kids who could have knocked someone down (or hurt themselves). There were ambience issues with the general shrieking. There was lack of respect. 

One of my correspondents that evening asked, “if they get a limo for their 8th birthday, what’ll they get for their 9th?” I’m more concerned that they won’t say “thank you” for any of it. 

*Caveat! I know my kid (one of them at least) has had his plentiful share of awful Publix moments. I know I am in a glass house. Throw those stones. 🙂

Has Anyone Seen Mom? (A Mama Kat Writing Prompt)

That Kat, she really knows how to bring couples together. Take, for instance, prompt #3 of this week’s five choices:

Something you do that drives your significant other crazy.
When I sent my husband an email to tell him that I needed help with my blog, I figured that the “crazy-making” thing would end up being “how you always email me with such minute details of our life.” When we sat down later that evening to actually discuss the topic, I hinted (strongly) that this would be a perfect “guest posting” opportunity for him. No such luck. But he did give me two … not just one but two …  crazy-makers. After 18.5 years of marriage I suppose he is entitled to two.
I have a lot to do, freelance project under deadline, day job, exercise, cat’s in the cradle and the kids have the flu and all that, so here they are. No analysis, no defense, just the cold hard crazy-making facts. (Feel free, however, to leave comments of support, agreement with him (if you must), or anything that may arrive in my inbox and make me think “yay! someone read my blog”).
Number One
In this image of my dresser, you see (among other things) my daughter’s “House of Representatives” patch from when she was a page in the House … two years ago … a tin I bought at Christmas to use for a gift card …. a spool of brown ribbon I bought a couple of weeks ago for Tenley’s dance costume, and of course a big green (Christmas) pen. The issue? I don’t pick up after myself. It’s true.
Number Two

Apparently, my husband and children have a running joke about the fact that it takes me twice as long to do anything as they expect. For example, a ten minute trip to Publix for one item turns into an hour-long odyssey.

One thing that does not drive me crazy is comments. Bring ’em on! But if you’re planning to refer me to Hoarders after seeing learning about my “picking up after myself” issue, please let me know in advance. I think I need to run out for milk.


Wordless Wednesday

Publix – Where Shopping is a Pleasure
as long as you ……
bring your own marshmallow
and do not, under any circumstances, refrigerate your cake cutter with your cake
If you live down here in the Southeast, you probably love Publix as much as I do.  However, these two packages really made me wonder.  Did a customer complain that the fudge grahams did not come with marshmallows as pictured?  Did someone refrigerate their complimentary cake cutter with their cake and ……… have a cold cake cutter?
Happy Wordless Wednesday!