“My Pleasure” – The passion behind the words

I was just recently at the JW Marriott Starr Pass resort in Tucson AZ for a Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals (SOCAP) conference, so its appropriate that I comment on a great experience I had because of these two words – “my pleasure”.

The theme of the conference was all about social CRM and leveraging emerging channels to provide customer service.  The best lesson I learned from the conference however was from a waiter at breakfast on my final day.  I sat by myself enjoying the sun rise over Tucson so I guess I was more in tuned than I might have been otherwise, had I been accompanied.

At each interaction with my waiter, he would respond to my requests or my ‘thank you’ with ‘my pleasure’.  And I didn’t really notice it until about two thirds through my meal.  But, then it sunk in.  He would use that phrase each time he came to my table; appropriately by the way.  And he really meant it!

Then I decided to really pay attention.  And I realized it wasn’t the words.  It was the sincerity behind the words.  He truly believed it was his pleasure to serve me; to provide great service.  Like any person-to-person interaction, it was his actions and behaviors that made the words have meaning.  That’s what made me take notice.  I’m thinking now as I write this that, even if I hadn’t been in tune to it, if I was with a companion and focused on something else, those words and the service that was delivered with them would have subconsciously elevated the experience.

In customer service, we spend huge amounts of time and money training people on the right words to say, and even how to say them.  And, I assume my waiter had some great customer service training upon joining Marriott.  But, this experience confirmed something we probably all understand at some level.  You can’t teach passion.  You can’t train people to love what they do.  It’s that passion that made those words have impact. 

As a customer service leader, the challenge you have to solve is how to identify that passion up front in the hiring process; even in its most subtle forms.  And then, build an organization and culture that nurtures it and fuels the fire.  


  1. Barry,

    Well said. I completely agree – you can't teach passion, inspire people to love their jobs or for that matter, "train" character into people. Becomes easier to lead teams once you embrace those notions…

  2. Barry Dalton says:

    Thanks for the comment Tom. Agree those qualities can't be taught. The challenge for customer service management is to try to identify them upfront. Easier said than done, right?

  3. "You can't teach passion. You can't train people to love what they do."

    Couldn't have said it better myself! But not everyone can love what they do, can they? This is where we can look to Southwest Airlines. They put the employee first. Always. And look how much their employees love their jobs! If only more companies followed Southwest's lead.

  4. I love Southwest, Sara. I wrote a post a while ago about how companies that put employees first, even over customers, are typically those companies that provide exceptional service. Southwest is one. Zappos, Ritz Carlton…look to companies with that culture and I bet you'll find a great customer service experience.

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