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Karin’s Leadership Articles

What does great customer service look like?

Best Superbowl Advertisement in Real Life

It was the best Superbowl advertisement ever: It was Superbowl Sunday just before kickoff. It was the first appointment the Apple Genius Bar had available, my hard drive had crashed, and I was in a tailspin. The book I had finished that weekend, was stuck in a system that wouldn’t boot, the last third lost with no back-up. Not to mention the trapped keynote presentations and other docs I’d lost.

“Our DNA is as a consumer company – for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply.”
~ Steve Jobs

Apparently, the editing of the video we filmed Saturday was just too much for my little MacBook Air. I waited with fearful expectation for my turn and diagnosis, anticipating the rolled eyes I deserved. After all, what dingbat does a big project without a net? I felt like a rookie.

Tony called my name and I shared my story. I was disturbed by his odds, but strangely comforted by his approach:
Oh, Karin, that’s just terrible, it could be bad. I’m not sure we can recover your files. But, you have my absolute commitment that I’ll do everything in my power to fix this. OUR goal is to have you leave here with your book, the rest of your data, and a fully functional laptop. It’s complicated, and I can’t make promises, but here are the first 3 options we’ll try if those don’t work, I’ll explain our other options and we’ll decide together,

After my 30 minute appointment morphed into full surgery, Tony brought in reinforcements. The prognosis was improving, but it would take a while.

Chatting to keep me off the ledge, Tony shared gently: You know the video work you’re trying to do on this is a lot for this computer. It will work, but it’s not ideal. I know you don’t want to think about that now; just something to consider in the future.

I had time to kill, so I told him I was off to wander around. Tony introduced me to John to answer any questions I had while I browsed. I told John the whole story. His eyes brightened.

“You’re writing a book! Oh way cool, what’s it about?” (HE LISTENED)

He shared, “I write too, mostly fiction, screen plays. Working on a sitcom. (NOW I’M LISTENING)

And I do video, this is what I use. That’s actually my dream, but I love working here because I stay up to date on all the technology. (I’M LISTENING AND LEARNING)

Are you using iMovie? (HE’S LISTENING)

How’s that been for you? (HE’S LISTENING MORE)

“Do you like to travel,” he continued. “I find most artists like to travel, I sure do. (NOW HE CALLED ME AN ARTIST. NICE)

“You know, once you publish your book, you should bring it in so we can all celebrate together about the book we saved. (WE WERE IN THIS TOGETHER)

He continued, it’s so nice seeing someone pursuing their passion. (THE FEELING WAS MUTUAL)

So there we were two “artists” spending Superbowl Sunday chatting about dreams. I left the store with my book, a working laptop, a new desktop computer, and a joyous heart inspired with possibility. I woke up at 3 am the next morning, gave the book a once over on my new machine, and hit send, feeling like an “artist.”

 Great Customer Service Feels Like

  • Respect
  • Deep Caring
  • Human connection
  • Commitment to resolution
  • Being “In It” together
  • Leaving the customer feeling like their best possible self

Whether your customers are external or those you are leading connection matters.

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?


  1. Alli Polin

    What an awesome experience! Whew! Great news on the recovery. I suspect, that even if all attempts had failed, you’d walk away with a positive experience. Too rare!

    I’d add passion. I love it when I catch someone in customer service that seriously loves what they do. I used to manage a call center team that was essentially our care team. They not only cared because they had a job to do, they cared because it was in their DNA – they shared a passion for excellence, caring, details and taking things that were going wrong and making them right.

    Feels good to think about that team and what made them special. Thanks, Karin!

    • letsgrowleaders

      Alli, Totally agree. Passion creates an unstoppable positive energy. I’ve been traveling the call centers I support this month doing kickoffs. I meet with team leaders and reps in focus groups before the big event. The folks who have true passion and are eager to spot. No coincidence that they are the ones also winning the big awards later in the day.

  2. Jon Mertz

    Karin, Your story shows the power of story in building relationships. Whether in a store or in our community, sharing our stories creates interest and a bond. Great example you highlighted…. and, congrats on your forthcoming book! Look forward to it! Thanks. Jon

  3. letsgrowleaders

    Jon, Terrific angle. I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. Yes, we were 2 humans sharing our stories. That’s what worked! Thank you.

  4. Jodi

    Thank you for sharing. It’s nice to know the people were genuine. Too often I’ve experience the “formula” of customer service where someone shows empathy by reading off a script. True excellent service needs to come from the heart.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Jodi, I so agree. Real cutover service comes though heart-felt connection. Great to have you expanding the conversation.

  5. david

    Thanks for sharing your story and for admitting your vulnerability. Both are very powerful and almost necessary to illustrate how relating to people as humans is so simple and impactful.

    By the way, when will the new book be available?

  6. letsgrowleaders

    Thanks, David. Great to have you joining the conversation. I do hope you will continue joining in the dialogue. If all goes as planned the book should be available at the end of March.

  7. Dallas Tye

    I would support your thoughts on Apple’s approach to customer service. I have sent my boss e-mails I have recieved after making a service request saying “we need to talk like this!”

    I mean its a script, but gosh they sound genuine. And that’s the key for me, does the service feel genuine, or not.

    People pay more for that connection too. I have an insurance company that isn’t always the cheapest, but I never ever have had to listen to a recorded voice from them asking me to press ‘2’ for a quote. It’s always (always) a person who answers 24/7. I love that.


    Finally, Karin,,, two words for your drafts- ‘Drop’ and ‘Box’ https://www.dropbox.com/

    Create as many folders as you like on your local machine, work at local speeds, knowing every time your save your doc (even while open), it automagically updates an online duplicate which you can access from most any other device. You can even share folders and contents with others to aid collaboration.

    This has been a customer care announcement on behalf of Dropbox.

    • letsgrowleaders

      Dallas, Thanks so much… yes, I am very wiling to pay more to talk to people who truly care. Yeah, everything’s now backup up every which way till Sunday, now…. drop box is my friend… as are you.

  8. Shep Hyken

    This really is what good customer service looks like. A great story. Of course I wouldn’t expect anything less from Apple. But more than the story is what we can learn from it. When a customer has a problem, this is the way to respond.


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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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