Service Gifts


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This is the season of gifts. Christmas trees are filled with gifts. Hanukkah has eight days of gift giving. Almost every faith in the world uses the giving of gifts for important symbols. And then there are gifts to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, retirements…we all seem to love gift-giving.

Gifts come in many forms. There is the convenient gift—usually cash or an affinity credit card. There is the homemade gift—like baked goods, croqueted items or the right-out-of–the-shop doll house. And, there is the “I don’t know what to get-you” gifts—like a book, tie or scarf. Gifts tell us a lot about the giver and their view of the importance of the event. It is a lot like customer service. Customers think of great service as the type that is laced with generosity. Even self-service can be an opportunity to add a special gift.

Early yesterday morning I stopped at a large gas station to fill up with gas at the start of a long drive. Before I could replace the hose back in the self-service tank, the owner inside the station came on the speaker on the tank with a cheerful, “Thank you so much. We have free hot coffee inside if you’d like a cup.” When I indicated I was in a hurry she quickly added, “I understand. I want you to know we are open on Christmas day. Hope it is a special holiday for you and your family.” It was an unexpected service gift—simple, homemade, and joyfully given. How can you make great service a gift to your customers?

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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