A personal note from Brian Dennis…
“I learned at the tender age of 6 that delivering good customer service was good for business.”
When I was just 6 years old and sold seed packets, I learned what great customer service looked like. When the seeds didn’t grow, my first customer wanted his money back. I refunded his 10 cents, and the following year he bought my entire catalog. I was hooked on delivering great service. I was also hooked on expecting others to do the same.
When I was 9, I sold Christmas cards to earn money for the only thing I wanted in the world – a Bazooka bubble gum machine! My excitement faded when I took it out of the box, only to find it was broken. When I returned the defective machine, the man at the counter lectured me about taking better care of my toys. Since my calm approach was not working, I tried the next best thing: crying. Although not recommended for those over the age of 9, this last-resort behavior caught the attention of the customer behind me who demanded the shop owner give me a new machine.
With my head held high, I walked out of the store with a new Bazooka bubble gum machine. But I knew something was not right. I had an uncomfortable feeling that I had not been treated fairly. My goal of getting a new machine was accomplished, but I knew I didn’t want to spend any more of my hard-earned money in that store. It was clear to me that bad customer service didn’t feel good.
These early experiences kindled my passion to deliver a service experience that was better than most.
It didn’t matter what the job was: selling hotdogs on the beach, going door-to-door selling knives, installing bulletproof glass in banks, and peddling carnivals in my backyard to raise money for muscular dystrophy. The feeling I experienced seeing happier customers always fulfilled me.
After college, I began working in the food and drug retailing world. I was blessed with incredible mentors along the way who demonstrated the traits of great service leaders and fostered a customer-first environment by hiring, training, and coaching top-notch associates. It was a demanding job with 60- to 80-hour work weeks but I loved it – I loved my customers!
When working for a Fortune 200 company, frequent moves are part of the package. An added wrinkle was the need to balance my wife Pam’s military career with my frequent transfers. All this while writing my first book, Winning at the Front-Line: Lessons in Creating the Ultimate Service Environment. Once published, the book opened many doors, enabling me to study and research Fortune 500 companies. I learned what they do best to deliver memorable customer experiences – and many are still delivering on that commitment today.
Halloween morning in 2001, I received notice that my bosses wanted me to relocate from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Boise, Idaho. I shared the news with Pam – let’s just say it was best that I left the house and took the kids trick-or-treating. Ironically that same day, I received a phone call from a recruiter at Kohl’s Department Stores in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. My family is from the Midwest and this company had an amazing reputation for happy customers and was expanding rapidly. Once my wife started talking to me again, it was settled – we would say “yes” to this incredible opportunity.
Fast forward to today, and I remain extremely proud to be with this great retailer. There are so many amazing associates and executives that live, breathe, and deliver on the Customer Experience every day. Those kids I took trick-or-treating are now in college, and Pam has retired from the military.
My greatest passion in life is to collaborate with others to demonstrate the tremendous power of properly executed customer service.
I share this through my keynotes, panel discussions and in my book about simplifying Customer Experience. I’m honored to serve on CX University’s Excellence Board and on their thought leader/teaching faculty with some of the most innovative minds in the Customer Experience field.
But enough about me. I invite you to read my book and look for innovative ideas that will elevate Customer Experience at your company!
Meeting Planner: Bring this Customer Service innovator to your group.
Brian Dennis career highlights
- Two-decade executive in Fortune 200 corporations
- Recognized industry thought leader, innovator, trend forecaster, sought-after keynote speaker, panelist, and contributor on the integration of customer service, Omni-channel and retail
- Author of two customer service books:
- If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat: Innovative Yet Simple Strategies to Elevate Your Customer’s Experience
- Winning at the Front-Line: Lessons in Creating the Ultimate Service Environment
- Serves on the Board of Directors for NextPoint’s Customer Experience Forum, as a delegate for the Next Generation Retail Council, as an advisor for the Customer Management Exchange in the UK, and on the Client Advisory Board for the Service Management Group
Brian and Pam Dennis are deeply committed to giving back.
Brian’s wife Pam is a retired Navy Captain who cared for wounded soldiers while stationed in Germany. Inspired by this, Brian is committed to supporting veterans’ causes. He serves on the Board of Directors for the VA Fisher House in Milwaukee, and he is an active volunteer.
Fisher House provides affordable temporary housing for veterans and their families traveling to receive care at the nearby VA Medical Center. The VA Fisher House Milwaukee provides a “home away from home” for these veteran families.
A portion of the proceeds from Brian’s book, If the Customer’s the Copilot, You’re in the Wrong Seat, supports this worthy cause.