Service so sweet


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Cake before photoMy daughter turned nine over the weekend. To celebrate, I ordered an ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery. Although I had requested the cake be decorated with “assorted flowers in her favorite colors of purple, blue, and turquoise,” when I stopped by to pick up the cake on Sunday afternoon, I was presented with the underwhelming cake pictured above.

Disappointed, I asked the counter employee if she could enliven the cake by accenting it with more color and, perhaps, flowers as originally requested. She responded that she was incapable of decorating cakes but that, if I could return later, someone qualified to add decorations would arrive in one hour.

For any parent who has picked up a child’s birthday cake on the day of their party, it’s understood that waiting an hour usually is not an option. So I took the cake instead to my local King Soopers supermarket. Being that it has a full-service bakery, I hoped that a decorator would be willing to add a little pizzazz to an otherwise nondescript cake—even though it had been purchased elsewhere.Cake after photo

In the bakery, I encountered a decorator named Jenny. After explaining my dilemma, she dropped what she was doing and spent the next five minutes transforming my daughter’s cake from boring to spectacular! In the process, she reinforced my loyalty to the King Soopers brand while proving once again that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary really is that little “extra.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


  1. Thanks for sharing this story Steve. I love it that Jenny could have so easily said “You didn’t buy it here so it’s not my problem” but she didn’t. I’ll bet you buy your next cake from King Soopers huh? Happy Birthday to your daughter by the way!

  2. Jeremy, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. It’s true that Jenny had a choice. I believe that all exceptional customer service results from an individual employee’s decision (regardless of the customer service culture of the company/brand) to expend discretionary effort in the moment of choice. It’s always voluntary. Jenny elected to help me. She didn’t have to – and many employees would have made the decision not to, using a variety of excuses (to avoid expending discretionary effort): “You didn’t buy the cake here” or “I don’t have time” or “It’s against our policy” or “It’s not my job” or “You’ll have to speak with my manager” or “First, you need to fill out this order form…” etc., etc. I often feel that if employees spent as much time/energy devising solutions, as Jenny modeled, as they did making excuses, we’d all be much better served.


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