Have You Made a Customer Cry Today? Lounge Lizards, Old Homes, and Customer Emotion

by Jeannie Walters

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I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective lately. Before coming to work for 360Connext, I was very unhappy in a job I was really good at but had lost my passion for years ago. Since the change, friends and family have noticed a big change in me. “You look younger!” “Your outlook on life is so much more positive!” “You have so many nice things to say lately!”

So needless to say, the change has done me (and those around me) some good! And while I’m still not ready to give the low-down on why I was so miserable in my former career, I’d like to share with you  a couple of my other experiences with less-than-stellar employers and how I kept things in perspective.

Hint: It was ALWAYS about the people, not the money.

Why are they really here?

When I was 14 I got my first “real job” as a part-time bus-boy. On weekend nights the restaurant became a lounge of sorts, with a live pianist playing tired old jazz numbers from the 40’s and 50’s, dim lighting, and fancy drinks named after long-dead celebrities. The patrons were of the aging lounge lizard variety. This was their less-lame answer to bingo tournaments at the senior center.


I don’t remember what I spent my earnings on… arcade games and cassette tapes? But I do remember interacting with the customers. Many of them were lonely- elderly and still single, or widowed.  They would ask me to sit with them and talk. The owner told me it was OK  if that was what they really wanted, so I did. A lot. I was flattered that these grown-ups were interested in hearing what I had to say, and sad for them for being so lonely. “Thanks for sitting with me, young man. I really like talking to you.”

Companionship is really what these customers came for, not the libations and entertainment. They were here to make friends and feel young. Making these people smile, and hearing how much they enjoyed and appreciated my company was far more rewarding than the few dollars I brought home each night and blew away at the mall the next weekend.

A product to me, a life-event to you.

When I was in my early twenties, I took a job as a window installer.

The job was really tough. I was a scrawny guy challenged with heavy lifting and long hours out in the elements, year-round. For 3 years I came home exhausted, filthy, famished, bruised, and sometimes bleeding. There were many times I thought it wasn’t worth the money.

But some unexpected things happened when talking with the customers. I began to realize that I was working on someone’s home- their pride and joy- not just following instructions to repair some structure.

I’ll never forget one customer who was so surprised at the changes she burst into tears and began hugging us. “It’s so beautiful! I thought it would always be an ugly house with or without new windows. I can’t believe it- My house is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you!!!”

After a few months on the job I came to realize it was not uncommon to get similar reactions. They would buy us dinner, send us home with beer, some of them even cooked huge meals, just for us! I felt special, talented, appreciated. And I couldn’t wait to meet tomorrow’s customers.


We weren’t just renovating homes, we were changing lives. We were restoring the pride our customers felt when they first bought their homes and that, I will always feel proud to have played a part in.

[Tweet “Let’s respect every experience as a slice of life. – @dragonburger75”]

It’s a Living Experience.

I could go on and on about my work history. I’ve worn many hats! Most of them have not been the best jobs on earth, and have often been for unsavory employers. (Another story for later, perhaps?) But what always kept me going was how I was impacting the lives of my customers, not the money I was making.

You can provide the finest product on earth and top-notch service, but when it’s all completed and delivered what really makes the experience, both for customers and employees, is knowing how the interactions and end results affect their real lives, as well as your own.

So don’t forget, and don’t let your employees forget: It’s not just about the product and service. It’s about customers. It’s about life! We are all customers, 24/7. The customer experience is the living experience. Just doing a good job simply is not enough.

…and love what you do.


Let’s not just think of it as business. Let’s respect every experience as a slice of life. Put some love into everything you do. Then I promise, you, along with everyone around you, will be happier.

Image credits: bnpositiveCounselman Collection,  Anita Hart via Creative Commons license

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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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