The Duh Syndrome: Differentiating Us Hillbillies

The Duh Syndrome

This is the second installation of things that people say to their customers that sticks in my craw. Every now and then I get surprised. I’m not talking about getting a present from that great aunt who died ten years ago. I’m talking about stuff that happens that you weren’t quite expecting it. They fall in two distinct categories: one is the stuff that happens that makes you smile, and two is the stuff that happens that makes you not! I call the second category Duh stuff! Duh stuff are things that make you go Duh (makes you question that you actually heard what you think you heard).

Example: I fly a lot—more than most. Not as much as others, but it’s a lot to me. So I am very astute to the fact that flight attendants have a tough job; so, I try my best to be understanding and compliant. It’s important to be comfortable when I fly; so, most times you will find me in a pair of Columbia stretchy pants and a well worn soft t shirt. On those special occasions when I fly in a suit, I sometimes pull the short straw and have a seat in the nose bleed section of the back of the plane. During one such flight I hung my suit coat on that little hook on the seat back tray. (While we are on the subject: am I the only person that pulls down the tray table and when I find it’s dirty I try to figure out what else they forgot?)

This was a quick fix, a temporary place to keep my jacket from getting wrinkled by a neighbor passenger placing their luggage on it. The flight attendant very quickly informed me that my actions were in direct violation of FAA rules and I had to remove my jacket post-haste. She said, and I quote, “It’s an FAA rule and therefore it’s ‘our policy’.” Far be it from me to be in direct violation of a government rule so I took it off. My seat mate called the flight attendant back with that little button overhead (I was beginning to think he was going to report me for another infraction).

When she arrived he looked at her in a very matter of fact fashion, reached in his pocket, took out his credentials, and politely said, “I work for the FAA and there is no such policy or rule.”  Vindicated, I put my jacket on the hook and enjoyed my flight. In reality “it’s not our policy,” or, “it’s our policy,” or, ” it’s policy” is a way of moving “how can I be of service to you” toward a self serving “no service mentality.”  Now contrast that with what happened to me this morning.

I’m off to speak to the Florida Chief of Police Conference and I realize I will have a little down time on the plane to Panama Beach and in my room tonight. Reading is always relaxing; so, I decided to get a book from a local author. I asked the lady at the airport bookstore if she could recommend something. She said with a huge smile that it was “policy” to always recommend local authors and she had a special section dedicated to that purpose. As she turned the corner she told me she had a favorite author that just happened to live in a little town very near. She grabbed the book and said “I just love his work and it’s always funny and entertaining—filled with life changing information.”

I was a little embarrassed; it was one of my books. We laughed, I signed a copy for her, bought a copy for me, and gave it away to a lady who was on her way to Omaha. Now that’s a DuhDifferentiating Us Hillbillies! We forget that “the customer is always served” isn’t policy; its just a way of giving them excuses, policies, and rules—creating a void or disconnection between them and spoiling the opportunity to create a memorial experience. So instead of “policies of distractions” let’s build “ policies of differentiation”. Here are some great examples of positive customer policy:

1. See the customer from their point of view.


2. Every customer is a gift. You might be surprised what’s inside.


3. Customer relationships build a great customer base.


4. Customers don’t need robots; they need thoughtful interaction.


5. The customer adds value to the bottom line. Add value with your interaction.

teamwork2.jpg6. Communicate purpose and passion to your customer.

purpose.jpg7. Toot your customer’s bullhorn. Tell them you are there to help.

employee-advocacy.png8. Stay true to your core values while catering to your customer’s value

core-values.png9. Do the heavy lifting for your customer. Don’t build a structure of policies.


It is always a pure pleasure to serve your organization. Michelle, Nick, and I are always honored when you trust your customers and team members to us. Call, text, email, or home pigeon us we are always at your service – Duh!!

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