I have several ideas for the article this week, but there is one situation I observed a few days ago that has lingered in my mind. It’s something that happened in just a matter of seconds, but there was so much value I gained from it.

While on a business trip to Louisville, I walked into a Super Target to purchase bottled water, Diet Coke, and some snacks. On my way to the self-checkout counter, I walked by the CVS Pharmacy embedded in the store.

I heard this short conversation between an elderly lady customer and the pharmacist:

Customer: “I thought my prescription would be ready today.”

Pharmacist: “Donna, let me check to see what is going on. Okay, I see it now … for some reason the transfer of payment responsibility from one insurance carrier to the other one has yet to be done.”

Customer: “That’s not good! I need this medication, and it’s so hard for me to get out and about.”

Pharmacist: “I agree, Donna. This was a breakdown on our part, and I will make sure it gets fixed. Just give me a call this afternoon, and I will have everything worked out. Don’t leave the house … I will get it delivered for free and by today.”

Customer: “Okay, Mark. Thank you for helping me out.”

The key takeaway is I could tell by how the pharmacist handled this situation that he truly cared about the customer. He made a point to ask her to call him directly.

The Usual Approach

From my experience, here is how I have observed similar types of situations handled:

• “I’m going to ask that you call the 800 number, and someone in the main office can help you.”

• “This issue appears to be between you and the insurance company. Give them a call and let them know about the problem.”

• “It’s probably best you go to the website to review the frequently asked questions. I think they also offer chat support.”

I could keep going here because there are so many examples of lackluster customer service.

Another example is when I approached a manager at a restaurant because we had waited nearly 60 minutes for our meal. He looked at me and said, “Can’t you see that we’re super busy?”

This is obviously not a good response.

Hire Caring People

Over the past 30 years, I have attended countless seminars, including some related to customer service and sales. It’s interesting that most of these training sessions focus on techniques related to wowing the customer and the many ways to close a sale.

What’s missing?

It seems like leaders are more focused on the how and less on the who.

What do I mean?

I firmly believe that the most successful companies are bringing on board people who have excellent soft skills, such as patience, empathy, and love. These employees care about the customer first and the transaction second.

The pharmacy example reinforced to me that long-term success for any company in any industry starts with employees who are genuinely concerned about the customers they serve.

As a reminder, it’s as simple as the following:

“Donna, just give me a call this afternoon, and I will have everything worked out.”