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Be Nice… Always

Why (and How) to Put Your Customers at the Center of Your Decisions

Shep Hyken sits down with his close friend, colleague and customer service expert Buddy Rice. They discussed how he helped Delta Airlines with its customer service culture, what customers are really looking for, and the RATER service quality model.

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Top Takeaways:

  • Customers aren’t always looking for money or a “yes” to fix their problems. They want a professional that can give them options and solutions to their specific issues.
  • In certain industries, especially in the airline industry, people are willing to pay extra to be guaranteed better levels of comfort.
  • Empowered companies have employees with the ability to make a decision that’s right for the customer. If you put the customer at the center of your decision, you cannot go wrong.
  • RATER is an acronym and model that can help you measure and improve service quality. It stands for:
    • Reliability: Getting it right the first time
    • Assurance: Keeping your word
    • Tangibles: Giving your products/services the best look and feel
    • Empathy: Understanding and caring about people
    • Responsiveness: Having a sense of urgency
  • Creating an organizational mission statement starts at the top with the leadership. The six-step process of creating a vision can be described by The Six D’s, which are:
    • Define: Leadership defines it
    • Disseminate: Tell everybody
    • Deploy: Train people on that vision, and constantly train them over and over again.
    • Demonstrate: The leadership is the role model
    • Defend it: If somebody or a group is out of alignment
    • Delight: Celebrate it


  • “Be nice, always.” – Buddy Rice
  • “Put the customer at the center of your decision and you cannot go wrong.” – Buddy Rice
  • “If the customer were your mom, dad, grandma, or best friend, what would you do and how would you treat them?” – Buddy Rice
  • “You can have the greatest marketing department in the world, but when it comes to getting new customers, it’s about the ones you’ve got because they’ll tell people how good you are.” – Buddy Rice
  • Everybody in your organization has to buy into the vision and mission.” – Buddy Rice
  • “Simple things like just being consistent and predictable are amazing to customers.” – Buddy Rice


Buddy Rice is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and master facilitator for Shepard Presentations. For 13 years, he helped Delta Airlines deliver one of the top customer experiences in the airline industry. For 15 years, Buddy has partnered with Shepard Presentations to offer their unique customer service training.

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning keynote speaker, and host of Amazing Business Radio.

This episode of Amazing Business Radio with Shep Hyken answers the following questions … and more:

  1. How can companies put customers first?
  2. What is a company mission statement?
  3. What is the RATER model?
  4. What are customers looking for in customer service?
  5. How can you make a good first impression?

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