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The Great Service Comeback

By now you have figured out how to work at home, socially distance, and make your own face masks.

This is a scary, chaotic, frustrating, and challenging time for everyone - both large and small businesses find themselves facing financial, health, and people issues that will forever change the way we do business.

I want to begin by saying thank you.

First I marvel at the everyday heroes who kept us safe, well, and fed during this time. Healthcare professionals, truck drivers, sanitation workers, restaurant cooks, grocery store cashiers, and cleaning companies - you were there for us and we won't forget it.

Thank you for all the leaders who stepped up and did their best to protect their teams. It hasn't been easy as even large companies such as Disney and Hilton have had to furlough workers. There have been amazing stories of care and creativity as guideposts for the future of leadership.

But there have also been poor examples of leaders and company engagement - and those businesses may find themselves without their best talent as a result. Teams look to their leaders in times of concern and those who don't deliver may ultimately lose their loyalty and engagement.

But let's start by agreeing that things will never be the same. They will be similar - and in many ways familiar - but we are forever changed. The way we work with others, serve customers, and lead our teams will be different.

You may be feeling scared, anxious, or uncertain about what lies ahead.

It's okay, we are all feeling that way to one extent or another. You will need to be agile, adaptive, and kind during this restart.

I am here to help. So let's do this together.

Over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing strategies, tactics, and training to help you start up strong and begin your march to success and growth. Now is the time to begin the comeback and the clock is ticking.


As we look at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Path Forward and the government's strategy to Open Up America Again it is clear that a phased approach is going to be the best bet. That means a thoughtful methodology that will scale to success. But we need to be sure we are translating these big picture items in to daily behaviors that can lead to success. Strategy never served anyone.

We will break down THE GREAT SERVICE COMEBACK into 4 pillars: Safety, Quality, Hospitality, and Simplicity. We will talk more about each pillar next week and how you can put it into action to drive customer loyalty.


You will need to be sure that you are engaging your teams regularly, even if they are furloughed or remote-working. Remote workers should be engaged daily and your furloughed team as often as you can manage, but at least twice a month. You will also need to consider what it means to re-activate your teams, bring them back to work, and re-engage them to serve your customers.

A key move here is ensure the safety of your team as well as to schedule a start up meeting to energize your staff. Have you considered the future of your workplace and how remote work will remain a part of your culture?


Your service models are changed forever - they will never be the same. That doesn't mean they will be unrecognizable, just re-prioritized. There will be added emphasis on sanitation and safety - along with transparency when it comes to how you will continue to keep your customers and team safe. Technology has been playing a larger role in service every year, and this has supercharged that march forward with virtual support and AI assistance.

Kindness, empathy, and flexibility have always mattered to customers. But now, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic there have been some changes in the CX landscape that will forever influence the future of service. What changes did you make in your service model that will remain post-outbreak?

It is important to remember that your customer journey, organizational commitments, steps of customer service, and service recovery models are still the cornerstones of your CX strategy - but they may need some massaging.


One thing this has taught us is that leadership matters during times of adversity. It also shone a light on the way leaders can keep their customers and their investors confident in their organizations. Some of the best leaders stepped up and delivered heartfelt messages of care and calmed their constituents. I think about the video spots from Peter Cancro of Jersey Mike's Subs. This guy came across as authentic and genuine - but didn't seem particularly comfortable on camera. I like that he stepped up during this time to talk about the service changes in the restaurants and the appreciation he has for those working on the front lines.

Now is a fantastic time to consider how your business will need to adapt and change to meet the evolving needs of your customers and your teams. It will take steady, optimistic leadership as we reopen our economy - this phased approach will need patience and planning to execute, while keeping everyone safe.


We have likely cultivated new revenue channels and service models during the coronavirus outbreak that will remain after we come out of isolation. Identifying those and learning from them will help you determine the best ways to serve your guests and consumers.

Think about restaurants and the pick up model they established during this crisis. It has changed how we "dine out" forever and created new traditions for families that will continue long after can safely visit restaurants. This will put increased focus on take out quality and variety. Airlines have long looked to the "change fees" (that can go as high as $200) as a source of revenue. Will they be able to flip the switch back on for those fees or will their government assistance and customer loyalty depend on them reducing or eliminating them?





The truth is that we don't know what will change forever and what will snap back to prior state as we reopen our economy. I remember reopening businesses and watching the service landscape following 9/11 and it was a complex dance between new and normal. This will be much the same.

But we will normalize and we will come out of this - and many organizations will be stronger than ever and others will be gone forever.

Now is the time to plan your strategy and prepare to serve - as always, it will come down to people and meeting their needs.

But discovering those needs and moving swiftly to market will determine the winners as we head into this next phase of our global recovery. And in some cases, your customers haven't figured out or communicated what they need or want quite yet.

That is why we all must focus on adaptability, creativity, and care.

Thank you for joining me in THE GREAT SERVICE COMEBACK.


Tony Johnson, CCXP

Customer Experience Speaker | Author |Trainer | Consultant



Improve Your Customer Service with my Book:

TOGETHER WE SERVE: Four Proven Strategies to Create Winning Experiences for Your Guests and Your Team Click to Purchase on

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