At Your Service: Learning lessons from the postman

The post office is typically not known as a model of efficiency and great service. However, recently “CBS Sunday Morning” ran a story about Mike, a postman in State College, Pa., on the campus of Penn State University. Mike works at the counter and services hundreds of customers each day. He has been working there for 38 years and still has passion for his work.

Here are some of the highlights from the story:

  • Mike finds something nice to say to everyone. These are primarily students and he always compliments something, like their handwriting, shoes or packaging. He goes out of his way to make people feel good. This is one of the ways that Mike connects with his customers and they appreciate it.
  • His connection is strong and his customers are loyal. One person said he buys stamps even when he does not need them. The customers really like Mike. Imagine someone going to the post office when they don’t have to.
  • Mike is remembered fondly. One person received an award for teacher of the year and recognized Mike as an inspiration.
  • The video showed long lines at this post office and no one complaining. They knew when it was their turn Mike would take good care of them.

How does this apply to the counter position at your company?

Are you creating an experience where the customer is recognized and appreciated? It may not be appropriate to compliment your customer on their handwriting or shoes, but the tone and body language in person and over the phone will make a great impression. Make your customers feel comfortable and let them know you appreciate their business.

Giving great customer service, like Mike has done for 38 years, impacts loyalty and repeat business. When these customers think of the post office, they think of Mike.
When your customers think of renting, you want them to think of your company. Your attitude and behaviors do make a difference.

When you are busy and customers need to wait for their service, they will be more tolerant of the delay especially when they know they will be serviced in a professional manner.

Customer service makes a difference in all industries, especially rental where there is a lot of competition and customers have high expectations. My lesson from Mike is that everyone can make a difference. To see the story about Mike, go to and search for “Mike the mailman.”


Barry Himmel is senior vice president for Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, Ohio-based consulting company offering sales and customer service training, marketing and mystery shopping services for the equipment rental industry. He can be reached at 614-766-5101 or For more information, call 800-398-0518 or visit