Nancy Friedman, Keynote Speaker, Telephone Doctor 

Pick up any ad and there’s probably a line or two of type on how well you’ll be treated when you shop there. Usually the advertisement reads, “We’re the best” or “Service is our middle name” or something like that. The TV, radio and the internet are loaded with commercials for being very customer service minded.

Why then, do we hear so many horror stories about how people were treated? Telephone Doctor recently surveyed several companies to seek out the traits, the characteristics, of those that have the service mentality. Clearly not everyone does. The good news is you can learn the skills of the “best.” No one has a monopoly on a great service mentality. 

Telephone Doctor culled together the seven traits that were among the highest in the survey. Here are the results. 

#1   Empathy

This trait won hands down as the most important characteristic when serving customers. In so many cases you get APATHY, the exact opposite of EMPATHY. Simply put, empathy is putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. How would you feel if what happened to them, happened to you? True story: On a recent trip, my wallet was stolen. All my credit cards, checkbook, drivers license and, of course, the few dollars I had in it. 

I proceeded to start making the appropriate phone calls to each credit card company; there were 4 in all. After explaining who I was and that I was at Disneyland and my wallet was stolen with 4 credit cards, cash, and checkbook, the person on the other end blurts out “NAME?”

There was no, “Gee, I’m sorry that happened,” no “Oh my, how sad.” All they wanted was my name. No empathy at all. I hope those people (and by the way, all 4 credit card companies did the very same thing) never have to go through that loss. All I wanted to hear was a, “Gee, that’s so sad.” Or a plain old, “I’m sorry to hear that.” Someone who understood. Someone who had empathy. 

Empathy is the # 1 ingredient for a service mentality. 

#2   Enthusiasm

Ah yes, enthusiasm. Appropriate enthusiasm cannot be replaced. It’s a sign of giving service that is above and beyond. When a customer feels that you are enthusiastic for them, they just fall right into the palm of your hand. Generating enthusiasm with a customer is perceived as their having made the right decision. It’s a confirmation that they’ve done the right thing. And everyone likes that. 

It’s the #2 ingredient of a great service mentality. Do you show enough enthusiasm in your job? And your customer? 

#3   Responsibility

Being responsible is so important. It’s the biggest trait your employee wants in you. Being responsible is living up to a previously agreed commitment. It can be a large responsibility or a small one. Example: I was a keynote speaker at a corporate meeting last spring and when they asked me my needs I told them all I needed was a handheld wireless microphone. “No problem,” I was told by the contact. She said she had told “BOB” to have the handheld wireless microphone ready for when I was supposed to speak.

Well, when I got to the meeting room there was only a “lavaliere” microphone; the one you clip onto your garment. Not the correct one we ordered, but nonetheless, it would have worked. However, my contact was terribly disappointed. She told me, “You know, I gave Bob the responsibility to get you the handheld and he let me down which in turn let you down.” She continued, “I gave Bob the responsibility of getting you the microphone you needed and he didn’t do it.” When you agree to something for a co-worker or a customer, it’s key to be responsible and keep your commitment.

#4   Resiliency

How fast can you pop back into a good mood when something has disrupted your schedule? We all get hit with some problems during the day. Things that weren’t what we planned. Do you pout and fret about it or linger and wallow in it? The ability to bounce back from any adversity is an important service mentality. My mother use to tell me, “It’s not the problem Nancy; it’s how you HANDLE it.” As usual, mothers are right. The handling of any situation is what makes the situation good or bad. And if you’ve been hit with a disappointment or something that you weren’t planning on, it’s up to you to bounce back and be resilient. Your customers should never know you were disappointed. Need to work late and miss dinner with some friends? Or perhaps you had a minor disagreement with someone. The customer should never know that. Resiliency is needed to have the service mentality. 

#5   Balance

Just like the justice scales that need to be kept in balance, so it is with our workload vs. the customer. There’s a fine line between pleasing the customer and losing money for the company. In other words, it shouldn’t all be one sided. When a customer needs something, that’s fine. If, however, we go over the line one way or the other, it becomes unbalanced and not fair to either the customer or the company. 

Finding the right balance at your job and in your company will help you maintain the right balance for both you and the company. Is the customer always right? No, the customer always thinks he’s right. We need to know the difference between giving away the store and sticking to company guidelines.

BALANCE keeps everything in “check.” 

#6   Ownership

This is my personal favorite. Because I see it so much as I call and shop around. It runs rampant though the business world. This is the proverbial “it’s not my job, or not my department, or I wasn’t here that day, or I don’t know anything about that.” 

Customers don’t care if you were on vacation when something happened and they need help. They don’t care if it’s not your department. You answered the phone; they’re depending on you. You are at the counter to help them now. 

If you answered the call, you own the call. Take ownership of the situation. It’s not that you’ll need to do everything, but taking ownership and making sure the customer knows that you will find out for them is the key! Our Telephone Doctor Motto is: It should never take two people to give good customer service. You get the call; you own the call. 

#7   Adaptability

Granted, this service mentality might need some practice, but it’s another important ingredient, characteristic, or trait of the service mentality. 

Think about the number of people who you help every day either on the phone or in person. They’re all different, aren’t they? Not only in culture, color, or accent, but in mood and personality. We need to be able to adapt to all kinds of personalities. Having difficulty understanding someone? Learn to adapt to their particular problem. Ask them if they could please slow down so you can get what they need. Slow talkers? Adapting to them is so important. Mostly because slow talkers don’t like to be rushed. So rushing a slow talker through a conversation will only make matters worse. You’ll need to adapt to those that are slow talkers. And of course, there’s the fast talker who you also need to adapt to. 

Think of the chameleon; that little lizard like reptile that takes on the color of what it lands on. They adapt to the color. And usually they’re difficult to see. We need to adapt to the situation so that every transaction is a seamless one. 

Well, there you have it, the seven characteristics that make up a SERVICE MENTALITY. You probably have some of them. Work on the ones that you don’t have or aren’t up to par in. Possessing these traits will garner you happier customers (and a happier boss). 

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Nancy Friedman, president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is a featured keynote speaker and subject matter expert on customer service and communications skills at franchise, association and corporate meetings. She has appeared on OPRAH, Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning and many others. She has been published in Wall Street Journal, USA Today as well as hundreds of other publications. Nancy is the author of eight books on sales and customer service and is the spokesperson in the popular Telephone Doctor customer service training programs. For a demo packet of Nancy call 314.291.1012 or visit


Nancy Friedman

Nancy Friedman

Communication and customer service expert Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, founder and chairman of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training, is back in the saddle again. Well, back into live onsite programs, and still offering her ZOOM programs, in a cost saving manner. Whichever you choose, onsite or Zoom, you’ll be glad you did. The reviews are excellent, and audiences have loudly applauded her in either area. Sales, customer service and communication skills are her area of expertise, and she welcomes calls, texts, or emails. You can reach her directly at; through the website at, where you can sign up for her newsletters; or call/text directly at 314-276-1012 central time. Bring it on. Whether you need a keynote speaker or workshop/breakout speaker on customer service and communication skills, you’ll make a great choice.