Magic Words Improve Customer Experience

There are moments in life when someone says just a few magic words that become powerful beyond the speaker’s imagination. They improve customer experience in a broad sense and can shape lives.

Perhaps this has happened to you. It has to me – twice, and both times the efforts to improve customer experience had a profound impact.

The first magic moment to improve customer experience occurred in 1972 when my high school science teacher, Stan Rhodes, challenged his students to see who could build the strongest bridge using just a limited amount of balsa wood and glue.

On the day of the contest, a serious problem emerged. I knew the span of the bridge could be at least 12 inches, but I got the width wrong. I understood the maximum width was 1 inch. In fact, it was 1.5 inches.

While my design was good, my bridge was 33% thinner than all the others. Even so, it came in second place.

I was crushed. With an additional half-inch of width, I surely would have won the contest.

As I was leaving, Mr. Rhodes pulled me aside and said, “Actually, your bridge had the best design. Well done.”

I looked up at him, my mood completely changed.

“Really?” I asked in surprise. “Do you think so?”

“’Absolutely,” he grinned. “You are a very good designer.”

“Thanks, Mr. Rhodes!” I walked away triumphantly. As Mr. Rhodes’s student (customer), he couldn’t have said anything more powerful to improve customer experience.

Today, more than two decades later, I make my living as an innovative curriculum designer. I’ve built boot camps, orientation programs, international tours, interactive workshops, management retreats, conference games, video and web-based learning systems and more. I am confident and passionate about the power of good design.

Stan Rhodes’ magic comment made a difference and did wonders to improve customer experience.

The second magic moment to improve customer experience came when I was new to the business world, a recent graduate of my youthful years as a world-trotting citizen diplomat and Frisbee instructor.

I attended my first National Speakers Association Annual Convention. Nervous and inexperienced, I was under-dressed for the event and had no idea how successful speakers built their impressive careers.

By chance I stood next to Thomas Winninger in the back of a large conference room. Thom and I are about the same height and for an instant we saw eye to eye. He introduced himself with enthusiasm – his trademark. I offered a more hesitant “Hello.” We chatted for just a short while. I felt rather awkward.

A few moments later, Thom looked right at me and spoke with an intensity that went to my core: “I can see you’ve got what it takes to succeed in this business. You’ll do well.”

It was a busy conference and Thom was very well known. We soon parted company in different directions. His comment, however, stayed with me.

Today, more than twenty years later, I enjoy my career as a successful professional speaker.

Thom was right, I did have what it takes. I wonder how he saw it? Maybe he figured that anyone who showed up at the Annual Convention had the interest and desire, if not yet the skills required.

Then again, perhaps Thom didn’t see much potential at all, but spoke up to help me create it by taking the time to improve customer experience.

Thanks, Thom.

Key Learning Point To Improve Customer Experience

What you say to another person may impact the balance of their lives. Make the effort to boost their confidence, self-image and esteem.

Action Steps To Improve Customer Experience

Don’t hold back. Move other people forward. Say the magic words to improve customer experience.


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Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling “Uplifting Service” book and founder of Uplifting Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit

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