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Treat Everyone Like a Customer Even if he is 13 Years Old

By December 14, 2010June 4th, 2020No Comments
inside of a mobile telephone retail store

All my 8th grader really wants for Christmas is an iPhone 4. So, I took him to my cellular provider the other day to see if they could help us.

The first salesperson who greeted us wasn’t able to assist us, because we were asking for something the store didn’t have. She motioned for some help and another salesperson came over. I’ll call him Mark.

Mark introduced himself to me and shook my hand. He failed to acknowledge my son, who was standing next to me.  When I told him WE  wanted to buy an iPhone, he said they didn’t carry them. He offered to show me other smart phones that “worked like” iPhones and, after checking with my son, I declined. All he really wanted was an iPhone 4.


Mark then proudly acknowledged at least they had an iPad, which was a “step in the right direction,” he added. Having never used one, I asked him to show me how it worked. My son, a savvy iPod touch owner and Millenial, stood by silently and watched. Within seconds, he quickly surmised Mark had never used one before and had virtually no idea how it worked. End of demo.

Before we left, Mark shook my hand and gave me a price book and his business card. Again, he failed to connect with my son who, it turns out, was the real customer. Had he bothered to ask, he would have discovered my son knew exactly what he wanted and why. I was simply there to write the check; it was his decision to make.

Again, he failed to connect with my son who, it turns out, was the real customer


At my son’s request, we drove to another carrier’s store. We were greeted by Joffrey, a salesperson, who seemed to take a genuine interest in helping us. In my gut, I felt much better about the expected customer service experience awaiting us. Without prompting, he shook my son’s hand and was extra careful to get his name right. He gave us their prices and walked us through the process for moving our five lines over to the new carrier. When we left without buying, he again shook our hands and thanked us each by name.

It’s starting to look like my son may just get an iPhone 4 for Christmas this year. As for the rest of my family, we’ll all be getting a new cellular carrier.


The above story is an example of what we call a “Today Story.” An experience that happens to you that has low impact on your personal or professional life. They are perfect for kicking off a weekly meeting, breaking bread for lunch, or motivating a team member.

As with all stories told in the workplace, it must have two characteristics:

  1. Clear Business Message.  This is your lesson learned or what we call, your Better Tomorrow Message TM
  2. Call-to-Action. A specific activity or thinking you want your audience to do

During our training workshops and keynotes, we teach attendees how to turn their own personal experiences into engaging and inspiring Today Stories, Purpose Stories, and Signature Stories. Learn more or contact us here. Additional options include presentation services, coaching (executive communication, sales coach, storytelling coach, public speaking, speaker coach), and communication services.


  • Save Your First Starfish – Ignite Your Team’s Passion with a Good Story  (read)
  • Great Leaders are Great Storytellers – 5 Tips to Improve Your Leadership Effectiveness  (read)
  • Add Suspense to Your Story with “Near-Impossible Goals”  (read)

Photography Source:  Flickr, osde8info

Duane Bailey

About Duane Bailey

Duane Bailey is a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller® online conversation. He has helped organizations of all sizes drive growth in revenues and market share through the development and delivery of key business messages that resonate with target audiences. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BS in Marketing. He brings 28 years of experience in marketing communications and high technology sales.