It was a popular glee club song when I was in high school.  We sang it for the state competition and made my small town very proud when we brought home the trophy.  While the song is a call for military gallantry, it contains a powerful message for customer advocacy.  One line goes, “Start me with ten who are stouthearted men and I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.”

Start me with ten customers who experience stouthearted service and I’ll soon give you ten thousand more.  Stouthearted is the antique word for bold, gallant and purposeful. It is service unleashed—people delivering customer experiences like it was an Olympic event and they were intent on winning the gold medal.

I stopped at the Farmview Market in Madison, GA a few miles from my home—they specialize in homegrown produce and products.  Among other things I was in search of a spicy mopping sauce to dilute with jalapeno juice and use as a mop when grilling baby back ribs.  The store manager was on the floor and eager to help.  He recommended Judge Cline’s No. 9 Sauce produced by a sauce maker just a few miles away.  But, his very best selling point was this: “If you don’t love it, I’ll buy it back from you!”  Notice the confidence and passion for the product.  Not, “I’ll refund your money”—an acquiescing, defensive statement.  Not a clichéd, overused “satisfaction guaranteed.”

Stouthearted service comes from frontline ambassadors with a passion to serve with noble purpose.  Such over-the-top service is typically the byproduct of associates who have been showered with trust, supported with guidance, and directed by leaders who recognize they have been entrusted with a talented gift.

Chariots of Fire was the story of the 1924 Olympics about two runners—Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddle.  The movie version won the 1982 academy award for best picture.  After track coach Sam Mussabini watched Harold lose a race against Eric Liddle weeks before the Olympics, he realized Harold had great potential.  “Don’t drop this one,” he said to the organizer.  “You may never get another one like him.”  Mussabini would ultimately become Harold’s coach and guide him to a gold metal win in the 100 meter and a silver in the 4 X100 meter relay.

How can you deliver stouthearted service in a fashion that makes your customers want to become enthusiastic advocates for your brand and organization?  If you are a leader, what actions can you take to remove the shackles—real or imaging—that inhibit your associates for delivering stouthearted service?


Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books.  His newest book is the best-selling Kaleidoscope:  Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.  He helped develop the FPG Service Unleashed Program and can be reached at

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