How “Freds” and “PDA” Boost the Bottom Line

Mark Sanborn is a best-selling author and authority on leadership and customer service with more than 2,000 clients, including Costco, FedEx, Hewlett-Packard and Time Warner.

Find "Freds"

In his best-selling book The Fred Factor, Mark suggests employers ask the following questions to identify Freds—future employees who will make a commitment to outstanding customer service.

What to ask candidates: Who are your heroes? Why? Why would anyone do more than necessary? Can you tell me three things that you think would delight most customers? What's the coolest thing that's happened to you as a customer? What is service?

What to ask their co-workers: What do you remember most about _________? What's the most extraordinary thing you remember him or her doing? How badly would _______ be missed after leaving his or her current position?

Impress Customers

Mark gives 150 tips for improving customer service at

Here are our top ten:

Building a relationship should never be sacrificed. Buyers return because of the relationship they have with you and your company

Call customers after the purchase for feedback. One study found a 27 percent increase in future sales when customers were called after a purchase.

No customer should ever have to choose between competency and courtesy.

Appreciate your employees. Those who are not well-served do not serve well.

Remember that the only thing a customer has less of than disposable income is disposable time.

Use your own products and services to understand your customer's experience. Beat your competition.

Loyalty is the lack of a better alternative for most customers.

Apologize. A sincere apology is the first step in dealing with a customer complaint.

Visit the best service providers in your area and visit them to observe how they do it.

Give customers a pleasant experience.

Assess Your Character

These five key words are crucial to spurring your own personal growth:

Know: What do you know? What are you most confident and certain about? What are the most important lessons you would share with someone you've mentored?

Sow: What do you sow (action and investments) that creates the biggest payoff? What are you regularly doing that creates the most success and fulfillment for you?

Tow: What are the things you tow— baggage from the past— that you need to release? What do you need to quit or overcome in your life?

Grow: What is your program for ongoing personal and professional development?

Owe: Who do you owe? Make a phone call or write a letter to express gratitude to those you have counseled and who have encouraged you in your journey.


In The Encore Effect, Mark outlines the formula for a Remarkable Performance (RP): P + D + A = RP. P = Passion, D = Discipline and A = Action. Here's how to increase your PDA factor:

Study and learn. Continue to read the best-selling books and magazines on compay and character. Download free university lectures through Apple's iTunes U.

Start small. Reach goals one step at a time. Losing 52 pounds in a year sounds difficult, but one pound per week seems achievable.

Find role models. Reach out to people you respect for their passion and performance. Avoid people who are "blockers." Passion begets passion.

Plug the leaks. Examine where you are not putting your time, talent and skills to best use. Then devote time to tasks that maintain your focus and advance your goals.

Make passion a priority. If you deliberately and consciously act with passion, you will begin to feel that passion.


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