A customer service parable
(adapted from the original by Harvey Mackay)
“No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice.” – Harvey Mackay
More than a year ago, I decided to hire a private car from the airport.
When the service came to pick me up, the first thing I noticed that the car was shiny, waxed and very clean. The driver came out and I noticed how smartly dressed he was in a short sleeved, linen work barong, and bagong plantsang black slacks. He looked more like a bank manager, than a driver. He smiled, shook my hand, and greeted me “magandang tanghali po!” (good afternoon, sir!). Without being asked, he carried my luggage and loaded it into his trunk. When I tried to help, he said, “ako na po, baka pagod kayo sa biyahe.” (Let me do that, you might be tired from your trip).
Before I could recover from this driver’s ultra polite ways, he shut the trunk and quickly went to my side to open the passenger door for me and closed it when I got into the back of his car.
Then he got into the driver’s seat and before we drove off, he introduced himself and said: “I am Monching, your assigned driver. Please put on your seatbelts for your safety. Before we drive, you might want some cold drinks? We have Coke Zero, mineral, iced tea and coconut water.” (“Bago po tayo umalis baka po gusto ninyo ng inumin na malamig? Meron po tayong regular at Coke Zero, mineral water, iced tea at buko juice.”)
I couldn’t help but smile at my good fortune. “Wow, okay… uhmm. I’ll have Buko juice” I said.
Monching had a small cooler in the front of his cab and he handed me a cold bottle of buko juice that he had thoughtfully wrapped with some tissue.
I said “thank you” and half-joked, “hey, maybe you’ve got some snacks there as well!”
“Oh yes, of course, I was going to offer that to you later. But you may have it now. Here we have boiled bananas and hard boiled eggs that my wife prepared, skyflakes crackers, Happy Peanuts, Snickers… Go ahead and choose what you want, sir.”
Monching didn’t miss a beat and opened a grocery bag filled with his snacks that he offered to me, “it’s on the house po”.
I took a boiled banana, gave thanks to God for such a blessing and again thanked Monching. “Thank you! Wow, you’ve got quite a service going on here.”
Monching allowed himself a wide grin and explained, “Sir, please take a look at my mission statement at the back of my card as you’re eating your snack.”
“No way this driver has a mission statement!” I thought to myself. True enough at the back of his laminated business card opposite his smiling picture, email, mobile and license plate number it said:
MONCHING’S MISSION STATEMENT:
“To delight my customers and make them feel like they are family, as I bring them to their destinations in the safest, quickest and most comfortable and affordable way possible.”
I was blown away!
But then, Monching wasn’t done yet. There was more! I was beginning to really, really enjoy my trip despite the traffic that I could see was building up towards Makati City.
“Sir, I have pocket books, magazines (he had current issues of Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Showbiz, Entrepreneur, and Reader’s Digest tucked at the back of the driver’s seat) at Inquirer, Star at Bulletin.
“I also have playlists on Spotify. Here are the choices,” Monching handed me a laminated card with about seven or eight different playlist choices ranging from love songs selections, movie themes, classical, praise and worship, acoustic hits, 80s, 90s, modern/today’s hits.
Then Monching, like a real gentleman, asked me if the aircon was reaching me and if the temperature was cool enough. He then told me which route Waze was taking us and our ETA – estimated time of arrival – at my condo in the Fort. Finally, Monching said, “Sir, if you have a question or a request—or if you want another drink or snack, just let me know. I also have tissue and hand sanitizer right there are the compartments beside you. And if you need to charge your cellphone, I have a powerbank you can plug into. Please let me know po, okay po?”
“Okay, sure!” I remember saying with a slight sigh, wishing all the drivers in the Philippines were like this.
I sent a text to my wife that I had arrived and was on my way home in the nicest cab I’ve ever ridden in. Noticing that my phone was at 15% I then took up Monching on his offer. As he handed me the power bank and an assortment of adaptors, I couldn’t help but ask him a question:
“Monching, you’re a one of a kind. This is the first time I’ve experienced this kind of customer service from a private cab driver. When did you start doing this? Were you always like this?”
Monching smiled into the rearview mirror. “Actually sir, I came from the Middle East. I came home two and a half years ago to be with my family. Then, I started to drive almost two years ago. But, just like my driver friends, we always complained about the traffic, about the country and everything else.. Customers would be greeted by a driver who was hot-headed.
And then one day I had a passenger who I was stuck with for about three hours in traffic. After listening to me rant about the traffic and the country, I think he could’tn resist. He gave some advice that I would stick to my mind.
“What did he say, if you don’t mind sharing.”
“Of course, sir, not at all. Basically what he said was this: ‘If you expect that your day will be bad, your day will be bad.” And then he said, “If I change my thoughts and my attitude, and my words–then my life would change as well.
I was intrigued by what he said, so I asked him what he meant by all that. So he basically gave me a one hour talk until we arrived at his destination. Actually, the time flew by and I wished that there was more traffic!
Before he left, he said, “Count your blessings, stop complaining. Be different from the competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
Then he gave me a book where I read about this taxi driver in New York City whose business and life changed, all because he changed his attitude.
After that encounter, I told myself that I would be the best in customer service. I looked at the competition, some rental cars were clean but the drivers were not presentable. They would play loud music, they would ask me for directions because their cellphones would be low batt and couldnt’ use waze, they would eat and drink without offering anything to me…so I told myself, I’ll be different. I will treat my customers like family, or like my close relatives. Slowly, I implemented these changes, and my customers were so appreciative. And so did I. I decided to be an Eagle all the way. I didn’t want to be a quacking complaining duck, anymore.”
I was in awe.
I told Monching, “Wow. Congrats! Your story should be told everywhere! This is a blessing. So, how’s your business now since you’ve leveled up your attitude and customer service?”
“Busines is doing better than I expected, sir. It’s great! God is good! I am happier and feel fulfilled. My income more than doubled when I became an Eagle from a Duck. I was able to buy four more cars and hired and trained other drivers to think like Eagles. They’re earning six figures a month, po. My daughter was able to enroll in a pre-med course. I just fully paid her tuition. God is good, po!”
I couldn’t help but be amazed at how lives can change just by changing mindsets. “Make a choice to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.” Monching the driver-entrepreneur gives not just service excellence, but gives hope to everyone who rides his cars.
What will you be? A duck or an eagle?
“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” – King Solomon, Proverbs 4:23
I first read about this amazing taxi driver based in New York City from a book by Harvey Mackay and then as a post in FaceBook, I think, that made the social media rounds. Later on, the story got morphed and became the story of “Adbul” a taxi driver in the Middle East.
So I thought, why not adapt it to the Philippine setting? Do you think it’s possible for Pinoy drivers/Uber/Grab/Taxi drivers to have a mindset like this?