Customer Service Training Video: Every Customer Has a Story

October 16, 2011

In April, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing John DiJulius, one of my favorite customer experience thought leaders (link no longer active), speak at the Multi-Unit Franchise conference. To begin, if you ever have the opportunity to see John DiJulius speak — do it! He has a great message, and his presentation is simply amazing.

During the presentation, DiJulius showed an incredible video that perfectly summed up one of the key messages I have always used in customer service training:

You never know what is going on with your customer or what path they took to get to you.

The person standing in front of you has a story. They have joys and stresses, successes and disappointments, triumphs and tragedies. They want you to solve a problem, to make their life a little easier and a little more enjoyable.

Ever since seeing DiJulius speak, we had been hoping to find the video to use for training; however, we had been unsuccessful until last week when I stumbled across a post from Kyle Lacey which discussed the video. It should come as no surprise; the video is a training video at Chik-Fil-A. Check it out:

(Video removed)

In his post on the video, Understanding The Personal Story of the Customer, Kyle takes away a great message that our customers do want us to know about them — they want to be heard. This type of customer intelligence can be crucial in helping to shape a customer experience that resonates with each individual customer. But as laudable a goal as customer intelligence is, it is not an overnight process. (See John DiJulius’ excellent book, Secret Service, for an in-depth look at this concept.)

I would like to focus on another message in the video — one that can be utilized for immediate results.


When an upset customer stands before you, it is rarely personal. They came to you to make their life easier, and for some reason, they feel you made it worse. Helping team members understand that they do not know what is going with the customer — how rushed, or stressed or sick they might be — and that they should approach each interaction with that fact in mind is a crucial message to instill throughout any organization.

It might be tautological to say so, but service is about serving. Customer experience reps should seek first to understand, and then to embrace the idea that even when they can’t understand, they can still be understanding.

After all, we all have a story.

What were your reactions to the video? Were you ever the customer that needed to be understood, who got upset out of proportion to the offense because of what was going on elsewhere?

20 thoughts on “Customer Service Training Video: Every Customer Has a Story”

  1. Yes, I’m sure it is very tautological to say so; but better you saying it than me.

    Empathy is not the same as sympathy; it’s being able to better understand what it’s like being in their shoes which helps you better align yourself in terms of service. They don’t want you to feel sorry for them, just better understand where they are coming from. That’s why it is sometimes better not to pre-judge until you know all the facts.

    I don’t recall having something so distracting going on in my life that I couldn’t understand why I was being treated a certain way as a customer. Sometime the people serving me probably had a lot to deal with and I try to give them the benefit of doubt at times when something seems to be ‘off’.

    Look forward to seeing you tomorrow, it should be fun.

    1. Hah! I thought I might get a smack down for whipping out the SAT words. I almost cut it, but then discovered something… I don’t know any other word that says the same thing. 🙂

      That’s a great point re: empathy. It is almost always about understanding where they are coming from, or at least, trying to. And I did like the part at the end of the video, where they showed staff having stories as well. We are all customers also, and it is certainly good to be understanding of those on the other side of the counter. That being said, my understanding as a customer is not nearly as deep. Part of being a professional is leaving those things at the door.

      Looking forward to it as well!

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  3. Thank you for giving value and given more specific concern about the customer service, with this blog i learn step by step how to handle well the consumer or customers in their needs of service. thanks

  4. Um, I don’t think you can give me a hard time about never commenting anymore when you went TEN DAYS without a blog post. Man, I was feeling really badly until I saw that. Phew!

    I actually was stopping by to say it was so much fun meeting you guys the other night. Your wife is darling and I’m so glad she came along! Thank you for meeting me an hour early so we could chat for a bit. I’m mad at myself for not getting a photo with the two of you…so now we have to do it again.

    1. 10 days. I know… it’s shameful. I’m glad I have a guest post lined up for next week or it would probably happen again. 🙂

      Great meeting you as well, and thanks also for taking time to meet up early. Enjoyed it! We will have to get that pic, and since winter in Chicago is not too far away, that means you have to come back here.

  5. I agree that every customer has a story and I do believe that listening to it and respecting it makes better and what’s more enriches us ourselves!! Nice article!!

  6. It’s really cool to have an open relationship with the customers. There was a point that except for giving them freebies and notes, I also put up a suggestion box near the counter to give them a chance to express themselves more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  7. This video does such a good job at reinforcing the message that customers (internal and external) are people and not just numbers. Thank you so much for posting it. There are several of our customer service training clients who could benefit from watching it.

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  11. Thanks a lot, Adam. I’ve been looking for audio/video content explaining why every customer matters, and why it’s important to listen. Working in a contactcenter, I have to add the importance of asking the right questions: this post helps a lot in reinforcing just that message.

  12. Thank you, you gave me new ideas for my blog. I hope this doesn’t bother if I take up this subject in my next article.Sincerely, Tom

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