Chanaka Demel, the front desk clerk on duty at the Holiday Inn Select hotel at the Toronto Airport, was registering two men late one evening.  As he was checking them in, one of the guest communicated anger over the fact that the airline had lost their luggage.  Both men were scheduled for early morning important interviews and now lacked the proper clothes.

Realizing both guests were about his size, he signaled another clerk to fill in for him and went home to secure two suits, two shirts, and all the appropriate accessories for the guests.  They returned to the hotel late the next day after completing a successful day of interviews in Chanaka’s clothes.  “He’s a miracle worker,” the men told the hotel general manager.  “We plan to tell everyone to stay at this hotel in the future.”

The takeaway could be the expectation of over-the-top heroics.  But, I want to focus on the boldness of the service—the attitude and sentiment.  Chanaka acted with a total absence of timidity, reserve, caution, worry, reticence, political correctness, and all manner of attitudes that clog up the space between courage and execution.  Service unleashed is not brash; it is bold.  It is not flamboyant or flashy; it is focused like a laser on excellence for its target.

I was recently working in Washington, DC and revisited a lot of historical museums—especially those related to Abraham Lincoln–the Ford Theatre where he was shot; the Peterson House across the street where he died, and the many Lincoln displays in the Smithsonian Museums.  Lincoln was a fan of boldness when directed at the right cause.

One well known story concerned General George B. McClellan who was in charge of the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War.  McClellan was known to over-think his assignments.  He revered correctness, often to the detriment of his mission.  His leadership was laced with caution, reserve and trepidation.  Frustrated by the slowness of his Army to act, President Lincoln wrote General McClellan a one sentence letter:  “If you don’t want to use the army, I should like to borrow it for a while.  Yours respectfully, A. Lincoln.”

Most customer relationships do not end with a storm of sound and fury.  Most do not end in a fit of dissonance or from caustic conflict.  Most “vanilla” to death.  It is death by indifference, restraint, and plain vanilla encounters.  Dissect the word “passion” and you actually get three words—pass-I-on.  Service unleashed means passing on the best of who you to someone else.  The philosopher Rollo May wrote: “There is an energy field between people.  When we reach out in passion it is met with an answering passion and changes the relationship forever.”  Spice up your functional interactions and encounters with your customers by adding a large helping of boldness!


Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books.  His newest book is Kaleidoscope:  Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.  He partnered with FPG to create the popular Service Unleashed training program.  He can be reached at

Enjoy the read? Learn something new?
Make sure to share with your friends: