Performing in the Key of Service


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Western music is typically played in either a major or minor key. Major keys are typically reserved for lighter, upbeat, and positive tunes; minor keys are used for tunes with a certain mystery, somberness or darkness. Almost all patriotic songs are performed in major keys. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and The Animals’ (originally Joan Baez’s) “House of the Rising Sun” were recorded in minor keys. There are clearly exceptions to the “major key is light and minor key is dark”—a song like “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess is in a minor key! But, generally the mode matches the mood!

Movie themes often chose major or minor for the mood of the movie. The Sound of Music, Grease, The King’s Speech and Chariots of Fire used a major key for the theme music; Jaws, The Godfather, Silence of the Lambs and Star Wars used a minor key.

If your customers were asked to choose whether your service is typically delivered in a major or minor key, which would they select? Customers enjoy service with surprise but are made anxious by service with mystery. They prefer upbeat service delivered with a light and positive attitude, not service remembered as gloomy and dark. Keep your service in a major key and watch customers come back to join in the melody.

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group ( and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.


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