By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Expert; Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training


Telephone Doctor’s online platform offers 12 series of helpful content to help your team communicate better with their customers and coworkers. This is one of the programs.

Most ads have a line of type or two about how well you’ll be treated when you shop or call there. Usually the advertisement reads, “We’re the best” or “Service is our middle name” – something like that. TV, radio, newspapers and the internet are loaded with commercials with companies saying they are very customer service minded.

Why then, do we hear so many horror stories about how poorly people are treated? Clearly, not everyone has The Service Mentality. The good news is you can learn the skills of the ‘best.’ No one has a monopoly on a great service mentality.

Here are 7 traits that exemplify The Service Mentality

#1 – Sympathy / Empathy

This trait won as one of the most important characteristics when serving customers. In so many cases you get APATHY, the exact opposite of SYMPATHY.

True story: On a recent trip my wallet was stolen. Credit cards, driver’s license and a

few dollars…all gone. I got ready to make the appropriate phone calls to each credit card company – 4 in all. “Hi,” I said, “my name is Nancy Friedman and I lost my wallet with 4 credit cards, my driver’s license and all the money in it.”

FIRST words out of the CSR’s mouth was: NAME? I nicely said, “It’s still Nancy Friedman.” I had just given her my name. There was no, “Oh my, I’m so sorry to hear that.” No, “Oh wow, how sad.” No, “I’m glad you called, we can help.” All they wanted was my name. No sympathy at all.

Sympathy is the #1 ingredient for a service mentality. Remember, the customer doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

And concerning empathy. Beware of the non-helpful statement, “I know how you feel.” That’s a deal breaker. No one can know how you feel.

#2 – Enthusiasm

Ah yes, enthusiasm. Appropriate enthusiasm is key. It’s a sign of giving service that is above and beyond. When a customer feels your enthusiasm for them, they pretty much 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 they’ve done the right thing. And everyone likes that.

Enthusiasm is contagious and is also the #2 ingredient of a great service mentality. Do you show enough enthusiasm in your job? And to your customer?

By the way: Enthusiasm comes with a smile as well.

#3 – Responsibility 

Responsibility is very important. It’s also one of the traits your employer wants in you as well.

Being responsible means living up to a previously agreed commitment, no matter the size of the commitment.

Example: I was a keynote speaker at a large meeting last spring. The contact asked me for 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’ her assistant to have the handheld wireless microphone ready for my program.

When I got to the meeting room there was only a lavaliere microphone; the one you clip onto your garment. Not the correct one I asked for, but nonetheless, I would manage. I was slightly disappointed, and my contact was even more disappointed. She told me, “You know, I gave Bob the responsibility to get the handheld mic you asked for and he let me down – which in turn disappointed you. You needed something, and he didn’t do it.”

When you agree to do something for a customer or a coworker it’s key to be responsible and keep your commitment. Otherwise you let people down.

#4 – Resiliency 

How fast can you pop back into a good mood when something has disrupted your schedule or workflow? How fast can you put that smile back on your face and move on? We all get hit with odd ball issues during the day. Things that weren’t planned. Things that disrupt our day. The ability to bounce back from any adversity is an important service mentality.

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; to 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 does not need to know and 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 own workload. 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 and it doesn’t take us out of balance, that’s fine. If, however, we go over the line one way or the other, it becomes unbalanced and that’s not fair to the customer or the company.

Finding the right balance at your job and within your company helps maintain the right balance for both you, the customer and the company. We need to know and learn the difference between giving away the store and sticking to company guidelines.

Balance keeps everything in check.

#6 – Ownership 

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

And the worst? “I’m new.” Watch out for that one. Being new does not give you the right to be unhelpful. Customers don’t care 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. You’re standing there. They’re depending on you. You are there to help!

If you answered the call, you own the call. Take ownership of the situation. It’s not that you’ll need to do everything or know everything at that moment; however, taking ownership and making sure the customer knows that you will find out for them is the key! It should never take 2 people to give good customer service! You can do it.

#7 – Adaptability 

Not easy and granted, this one service mentality might need some extra practice, but it’s another important trait of having a 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 these things.

Having difficulty understanding someone? Ask them if they could please slow down a little, 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. Showing you’re frustrated by your expression or tone of voice will not help the matter. You’ll need to adapt to those slow talkers.

And, of course, there’s the fast talker who you also need to adapt to in order to help them. Think of a chameleon. That little lizard like animal that takes on the color of what it lands on. They adapt to the color. And usually they’re difficult to see. But they’re there.

We need to adapt to the situation so that every transaction is a seamless one.

Well, there you have it, the 7 characteristics or traits; whatever you want to call them, that make up a SERVICE MENTALITY.

You most probably have some of the traits. Work on the ones that you don’t have or aren’t up to par in right now. You can do it.


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.