Give ‘Em The Pickle!:
Customer Service in an Emotional Economy

Bob Farrell owned and operated the famous and successful Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor. I was always excited to go with my family to get their juicy cheeseburgers and huge ice cream sundaes. The parlor was painted in colorful red, white, and blue. It was always a party– the servers were fun, and Bob often walked around handing out balloons and hard candy to kids.

Until one day, he told the story of a business-defining letter he received from an upset and disappointed customer. She came in for years ordering cheeseburgers and fries. She LOVED their famous pickles. She always asked for an extra pickle and she always got them until her last visit, when she was told she can get them as a side order for 75¢.

She wrote Mr. Farrel, “I am very disappointed and I’m never coming back”. Farrell wrote back, apologizing and providing coupons for a free meal and extra pickles.

Farrell immediately called an all-hands meeting with the entire staff, announcing their new mantra:

I heard Bob tell that story at an event I was honored to speak at. He was kind enough to sit in on my talk, which really uplifted my confidence. In a way, I received an “extra pickle” from him that day!

Growing up in the restaurant business (I think I mentioned a couple of times my dad had Tom’s Pancakes in Oregon), I never forgot that no matter what industry you’re in, it’s important to “Give ’em the pickle”.

Ask yourself:
  1. What is our “pickle”?
  2. How do people feel about doing business with us?
  3. Is the customer surprised in a good way?
  4. Are they happier than before?
  5. Do they want to tell others about the experience?
Figure out your “pickle”, and give “it” to them!

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About the Author

Steve Gutzler is the President of Leadership Quest, a Seattle-based leadership development company. Steve is a dynamic, highly-sought-after speaker who has delivered more than 2,500 presentations to a list of clients including Microsoft, Starbucks, the Seattle Seahawks, Pandora Radio, Boeing, Cisco, Starwood Corporation, the Ritz Carlton group, and the U.S. Social Security Administration. He recently was voted #1 by the readership of Huffington Post as the Most Inspirational Leader on Social Media.

A published author on leadership and emotional intelligence, Steve resides near Seattle with his wife Julie where they enjoy time with their three adult children and six grandchildren.