Make this the Week of Encounter

In every customer interaction, there are only three things that can happen:

  1. Your relationship gets better
  2. Your relationship stays the same
  3. Your relationship gets worse

Scenario #1 is an “encounter.”  Scenarios #2 & #3 are “transactions.”

As you interact with people this week, in the course of doing your work, notice this at the end of each interaction: Is my relationship with this person better now than it was at the start of the interaction? Have we created a relationship-building encounter?

Here are a few places you can learn more about the differences between encounters and transactions:

  • Chapter 2 in my book, We: The Ideal Customer Relationship.
  • My free ebook, Encounters, which can be downloaded on the right side of this page.
  • This newsletter, The Encounter Habit.
  • And numerous blog posts on this site.

But, for this week, focus on encounter awareness.  Notice whether you are creating encounters or transactions.

Then, work on creating more encounters. Even if you are a master of business relationship-building, you have room for improvement. Everyone does.  Every customer interaction is not only an opportunity to build a relationship, it is an opportunity to practice the skill of encounter, one of the most valuable business skills you can have.


  • Amanda Cullen
    Sep 21, 2009 - 09:14 am

    Thanks for the build-up from the last post. You can’t have encounters without conversations. Now I’m excited to see what next week will be the “week of”

  • Tom McCallum
    Sep 21, 2009 - 09:36 am


    Great to have an another “encounter” with you again last week in Cayman, and look forward to the next one.

    Today am out at theReef, where the team is enthused about reopening after their annual maintenance week. They are so “hard-wired” to come to work each day seeking to create special moments of extraordinary service for their guests, that this week they are particularly energised.. to not just show off a pristine and sparkling resort, but also put down the paintbrushes and talk to and help the guests.

    My role with theReef is beautifully simple, to make sure the whole team (or “family” as we prefer to call it) is focussed on all times on providing exemplary service and creating wonderful and unique guest experiences.

    Am not sure how I’d put that definition of role into a client engagement letter, but happily the visionary Thompson Group (owners/managers of theReef) implicitly understand the importance of having such guidance !

    As you can tell, I totally agree with your blog, just felt it useful to put it in a real word hospitality context !

  • Steve Yastrow
    Sep 21, 2009 - 20:14 pm

    Tom – thanks for the comments. (For those of you who don’t know, The Reef is on the beautiful east end of beautiful Grand Cayman.)

    Tom … want to try an experiment? Take some copies of my Encounters ebook: … and share it with some of your top employees. Encourage them to think this as they provide service: “How as I provide great customer service, can I also build The Reef’s relationship with this guest?” (Also, you have my publisher’s implicit permission to photocopy Chapter 2 of We, the chapter on Encounters and share it with your team.) Go for it! If you try it, let me know how it goes.

  • Tom McCallum
    Sep 21, 2009 - 20:40 pm

    Steve…as Simon T. Bailey would say… BRILLIANT Idea.. and thanks… will get the team onto that right away…and will certainly let you know how it goes.

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