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Today’s service practices create tomorrow’s service culture

Last month, I presented a customer service message to a group of managers from Townhouse Inns of Montana, a division of Town Pump, Inc.

During my work with them I learned that the company founder, Tom Kenneally, Sr., began the company in Butte, Montana as a single full service gas station in 1953. It was here that he began to lay the customer service foundation for a company that would later expand into lodging, casinos, car washes, convenience stores, propane services, and more.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Tom, Sr. would hand the customer his wristwatch to time his oil change which was guaranteed to take less than 3 minutes or the oil change was free! This gesture demonstrated that he valued his customer’s time and was confident in his own ability to perform the service within the timeframe promised.
  • Back in the 1950s, the state of Montana published a vehicle registration directory that listed every license plate number issued as well as the name corresponding to it. In 1953 in Butte, Montana you can rest assured that Tom, Sr. knew most of his customers by name. However, on those occasions when an unfamiliar vehicle pulled into the service station, he would take note of the plate number and then quickly look up the name associated with it. This way, he could greet the customer by name!
  • More recently, Town Pump, Inc. established a charitable foundation with the mission to provide financial support to Montana charitable or governmental organizations with the priority to support and meet basic needs and education for Montana citizens. The Town Pump Charitable Foundation has contributed $1.15 million to Montana food banks alone over the past seven years.

A company’s history is vital to its identity and culture. Current employees take their cues from the patterns forged over time that emerge as company history, legacies, stories, and culture. In the case of Town Pump, Inc., it’s a story of 56 years of service to its customers, employees, and neighbors.

And remember that while 1953 was a long time ago, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your company’s existence. In other words, the stories and legacies that will come to define your company in the future are being created right now!

So the question becomes, “What am I doing right now that will support the kind of service culture that I want to be associated with and remembered for?” Once you’ve identified that, now you just simply need to behave on your good intentions—as Tom, Sr. has done for so many years.

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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