My professional life involves helping companies build strong brands through their people. Only recently did I make the connection that an exceptional customer experience does more than contribute to a strong brand—it changes the world—for the better. Now that might be a BGO (blinding glimpse of the obvious) to many of you, but it was two personal interactions recently that brought me to this clarity.

The first involves Jeff, a salesperson in men’s clothing at Nordstrom’s. Over several years, I have purchased clothes from Jeff, but I have also bought from other salespeople. A recent transaction, however, made an exceptionally deep impression on me. I had returned to the store to exchange a pair of trousers. Jeff very graciously assisted me as the original salesperson was not available. A true salesman, he also recommended a shirt to go with the pants which, of course, I bought.

When Jeff made the exchange, he separated out the trousers from the shirt and pointed out that he wanted me to see the original salesperson was still being credited for the sale as it was an exchange. This action, that to some may seem so small, had a profound effect on me. It was an example of impeccable integrity and, unquestionably, a reflection of Jeff’s values. Values are one of the three pillars upon which strong corporate and personal brands are built.

The second interaction involves Wanda, a waitress at a Perkins Restaurant. Approximately fifteen years ago, a group of men, all of us close friends, would meet for breakfast once a week to check in on each other’s lives and, in difficult times, provide support. This was especially important to me when my wife was dying from ovarian cancer. Wanda was always our waitress, eventually getting to know each of us by name, and seeming to sense when anyone of us might be experiencing some sort of personal struggle.

She was bright with a ready smile and provided exceptional service. We loved Wanda’s genuine and caring attention, which led to us insisting we always be seated at one of Wanda’s tables. Circumstances, however, led to the group disbanding and my not returning to the restaurant for several years. That happened a few months ago.

To my pleasant surprise, the first person I encountered was Wanda. What happened then was amazing. She said: “David, how are you? I haven’t seen you for a long time.” I was stunned. With the thousands of people Wanda must have served since our last encounter, how fantastic to remember my name. As I ate my breakfast, I witnessed Wanda consistently providing the same level of exceptional service with other customers. Consistency is a key characteristic of strong corporate and personal brands.

What is the lesson here? Simply put, Jeff and Wanda, besides being phenomenal ambassadors of their company’s brands, through their integrity and attitude gave me hope. They made my world better. They reminded me that the world is full of wonderful people living honest, productive and purposeful lives. And, if Jeff and Wanda are changing my world, they are undoubtedly changing the world of many others. They may never achieve or even desire the notoriety of a Bono or Oprah but, in my eyes, they are rock stars!

MARK OF AN EAGLE—How Your Life Changes the World, by David McNally. Available on Amazon or here. 

“I would buy MARK OF AN EAGLE for everyone I love. It will make a difference in the way they live and the way they think. It provides a meaningful way to learn and grow through self-reflection.”    Rhoda Olsen – CEO, Great Clips, Inc.