A story about service: why it earns money and future patronage.

“I was looking for a chair last Christmas,” explained Earl Nightingale, “I wanted to buy my wife a small telephone chair, something special, a conversational piece, something that would delight her.”

Nightingale went on to tell how he found one that was just right. The salesperson told him it could be delivered well before Christmas. Just one hitch. Nightingale wanted it gift wrapped so his wife would be surprised on Christmas morning.

“Sorry, we can’t wrap it. It will be delivered just as you see it now.”

So Nightingale said, “Put it in an old cardboard box, and I’ll wrap it myself.”

No! The salesperson said it could not be done, period, but he wrote up the order anyway and handed it to Nightingale for his signature.

Nightingale also said, “No,” and left to find a store with a staff willing to do more than just write up an order.

At another store he found a similar chair. It too was perfect but, gift wrapping? No. A box even? No.

After hours of searching, he finally went to the biggest store in town and found another fine chair, and this time, “Yes, we’ll find a box that will fit it, wrap it real nice, and your wife will be surprised on Christmas morning.”

“Thank you,” said Nightingale. “You have no idea how much I appreciate that. And since you’ve been so helpful about it, I saw a chaise lounge over there…”

Thus ended the story of the chair, which is also the story of why people alter their buying habits and why the biggest store in town remained the biggest.

Customers are the very foundation of your business. If you don’t give good service, you’ll have a tough time making sales. So how are you treating your customers?


Joel Weldon

Inspirational Content Writer and Speaker

joel weldon

the winding river by Joel Weldon

Here’s What You Can Do:

Remind yourself and the other members of your team that CUSTOMERS:

  • are NOT dependent upon you. You are dependent upon them.
  • are NOT an interruption of your work, but rather the purpose of it. You aren’t doing them any favors at all, but they are certainly doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to serve them.
  • are NOT outsiders. They are part of your organization.
  • are NOT cold statistics, or names in your data base. They are thinking, feeling human beings, just like you.
  • are NOT people to argue with. Nobody ever won an argument with a customer.
  • ARE people who come to you with a need. It’s your job to fill that need profitably, for them and yourself.

-Joel Weldon