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"Why Choose Between Fun and Content When You Can Have Both"

Dear Employee, let’s check your customer service knowledge

I bought this new grill recently. I love the grill. I feel like the king when standing in front of it! It’s a guy thing. (Although some women I know have been arguing the guy thing with me).


The grill has one small problem. Okay, it’s not exactly a small problem.



Enjoy the customer service test that follows. It is based on a recent experience.


Customer calls manufacturer to share with you that the handle on this grill cover/lid gets burning hot. You:

  1. Tell them to use an oven mitt to open the cover
  2. Check to see if there is a recall or defect regarding this product
  3. Tell the customer there is nothing noted about this product
  4. Take the customers name and information

(if you chose 2,3 or 4 you are wrong)


Customer asks you if there is a plastic/rubber part he can buy; one that wraps around the handle like on your other models. You:

  1. Seem less than enthused with the customer concern
  2. Inform customer there are no listed defects on the model the customer owns
  3. Again tell the customer to use the oven mitt
  4.  Quickly try to get customer off of phone

(if you chose #1 you are correct)


Customer nicely suggests you take this matter seriously as some frivolous lawsuit is just waiting to happen. Customer tells you he is actually trying to help you, the company, avoid legal problems. You:

  1. Tell the customer there are no listed defects on this model
  2. Tell the customer to use an oven mitt
  3. Tell the customer there are no complaints logged
  4. Take the 5th

(I assume you’re getting smarter and chose #4)


Customer asks to speak to a supervisor. You:

  1. Put the customer on hold come back and tell the customer the supervisor is too busy to come to the phone.
  2. Listen to the customer ask you “Is this how you are trained to handle customer complaints/inquiries/suggestions? Is the canned answer in the manual to go get an oven mitt?”

(You are correct if you chose both. If you did not choose both you are wrong.)


Customer asks to speak to the legal department. You:

  1. Tell the customer no one is available.
  2. Stop offering the oven mitt as a solution

(Again, correct only if you chose both)


Customer tells you he will hang up, call the main number, and ask for the CEO’s office. You:

  1. Panic and now offer to take the customers information and have someone get back to you
  2. Listen to a click as the frustrated customer hangs up and follows through

(I hope you chose #2)


The CEO is not available. (He and the legal department are probably over at Weber HQ.) You are now “The Manager” given the call. You:

  1. Apologize for the treatment the customer just received
  2. See the potential seriousness of the matter and take the customer’s information
  3. Offer to reimburse the customer for any solution he comes up with

(Yes, it takes a manager to clean up the mess and understand that poorly trained employees kill business)


Bonus questions:

  • Did it really take the time of a manager to come up with the right solution?
  • Wouldn’t their time be better spent implementing quality employee training experiences?


So how did you do? Are you ready to be a Customer Service Rep?


On another note…………………..


Dear Brinkmann,

Perhaps you should include oven mitts with each purchase. No only might it save you gazillions in lawsuits it would also be a really nice touch.


Customer who purchased their first (and possibly last) Brinkmann product


Employees Having Fun Screaming at Customers: Welcome To Moe’s!

How does your business welcome customers?

Do they scream at people?

Does your approach stand out?


How do you welcome customers to your business?

Moe’s Southwest Grill is an assembly line type Southwest Fare restaurant.

When you walk in to Moe’s you’ll get a big shout out by the staff:


Welcome to Moe’s!!



Or not.

On my last two visits there I tried to figure out the rhyme or reason as to when the staff offers this fun greeting.

  • Is it when they’re busy; hoping people won’t see the line and walk out the door as fast as they walked in the door? Screaming “Welcome” just might be the new guilt
  • Is it when they’re not busy assembling a Homewrecker Burrito and have a few moments to have fun?
  • Is it when someone behind the assembly line notices patrons have walked through the door?
  • Does it depend on the staff members who are working that shift (let’s face it, not all staff are fun; even at a fun place to work)
  • Do they only do it to people with purple hair, children, people who look stressed, miserable people or big Harley-like dudes?


Today I asked.

Turns out it is all of the above. There is no directive. There is no rhyme or reason. It’s just something they do whenever they feel like doing it.

I like it. It’s spontaneous. It’s fun. It’s when people are in the mood. It’s not rehearsed. It’s not done with rolling eyes; fearing that if you don’t scream you will be forced to eat a bowl of hot chili peppers by the Wicked Evil Manager. It clearly shows how a great employee experience can turn into a memorable customer experience. And even if I don’t get a shout it still beats the typical greeter approach I wrote about recently.

Now it also kinda makes you jump when you’re working your way down the assembly line having your burrito prepared and all of a sudden a group of people scream from 2 feet away. But we all need to exercise more anyway. Especially if you’re going to eat The Homewrecker. Let’s just hope some frivolous jerk doesn’t claim being frightened to death and sue.

But it got me thinking about how other businesses welcome me. Nothing stood out. Keep up the great work Moe’s! I love the energy you folks give off. You stand out from the rest. And if you scream more often maybe all this jumping can help people burn off the calories from that Homewrecker.




You could have still had my business. Could have.

A while back I was considering taking acting classes. It was a series of 8 classes. Due to travel commitments I wasn’t sure if it would be fair to the other students if I could not be there for all eight.

  • I sent an email to the instructor about my concerns. No response.
  • Since I had learned about the classes on a Facebook page where the instructor and I are both fans I sent a Facebook message to the instructor. No response.
  • I left a message with the studio where the lessons were being offered; asking for the instructor to get back to me. I’ll let you guess the result of that approach.

Two weeks ago I ran into an old friend who happened to be performing in a short play taught by the instructor. He had nothing but great things to say about her. I happened to mention to him I was looking at signing up with a different group and shared my experience. He asked me to wait a few days. He wanted to mention our conversation. I agreed.

The other day he sent me an email. He did share our conversation with the instructor. She asked him to give me an apology and her email address.

I just shook my head when I read the email.


What would you have done had you been the instructor?

Thursday is Recess At Work Day

The last Thursday in November might be Thanksgiving, but the 3rd Thursday every June is something much more important!

  • It’s a day to boost employee morale
  • It’s a day to celebrate organization success
  • It’s a day to engage in some creativity or team building work
  • It’s a day to thank your employees, co-workers, or volunteers
  • It’s a day to continue to improve the Employee and Customer experience
  • It’s a day to continue or to begin an employee experience initiative



Recess: A break from the norm; the temporary cessation of the customary activities of an engagement occupation or pursuit


Take a break from the norm this Thursday. For ideas and more things to do visit the Recess At Work Day website.

Why does The Greeter look so bored and unhappy?

They’ve popped up everywhere in the last ten years……..The Greeter. They have them at the bank, retailers, hospitals, and meetings/events.

In concept I like the idea – except of course when you’re in a line thinking to yourself that person who is smiling and saying hello could actually be moving this line along and getting me on my merry way.

I think the Greeter should be called The Player or The Funner. Or heck, the RECESSitator! For example, last night I walked into a Brookstone store. There he was, The Greeter. Brookstone has some cool gadgets and toys. Why isn’t The Greeter playing with one of the products? Asking me to play too?

And then there’s the bank. Some banks now offer coffee and cookies to their customers. What if The Greeter was wearing a white glove, had a towel over his or her arm and had some of those cookies on a silver platter (you can get one at the $1 store – which doesn’t have a greeter). What is the bank worried about; their image? I think your images have already been “tarnished.” And let’s be real….no one really likes the bank.

Why does The Greeter look so bored and unhappy. Probably because he or she was told to go stand by the door and greet people. Maybe the order should be to stand by the door and have fun with people. It would make for a bettter employee experience. It might even make for a better customer experience. Perhaps even higher sales?


It’s so easy to keep a customer. It’s even easier to lose one.

I waited in line for close to 5 minutes while you tried to find change of a $100 bill for the customer in front of me. You were running from register to register to back room looking for money. You finally come back and give this person his change.

You now are looking down at the register; doing who knows what. This went on for 30 seconds. Not a long time some would say. All you had to do was acknowledge my presence. You did not.

I walked out.

I probably won’t be back. I really didn’t need to dunk one of your donuts anyway.


Free training tip that really shouldn’t have to be shared: Train your employees to say hello, tell a customer they’ll be right with them, or even make a snarky comment about a mess they’re trying to recover from. It will go a long way to retain a customer.

Spend less time with the same old and more time clowning around!

Who is your mentor? Who do you learn from? Who are the people you turn to when you need to solve a problem; whether it be a biz idea or a personal challenge? Do you invest in yourself regularly?

More and more people have shared they hire me because I offer something different. Their meetings and conferences need to play a little more; to include some fun and playful approaches to employee happiness, the employee experience, and the customer experience. That PowerPoint charts of data no one cares about and scientific theory that makes you want to puke needs to be balanced with experiential learning. We might use clay to design/improve a product or hold a “discussion” to create better experiences without ever uttering a single word – but laugh uncontrollably.

As I work to grow One Less Meal, Inc operators of The Double D Diner: The World’s Only Virtual Diner Fighting Hunger I too have turned less to people with traditional business expertise and more to people one might not expect has a hold on business. This year I have turned to a clown.

Jef Johson is not a traditional clown. He thinks clowning is something much deeper than funny gags and big shoes. (His words) At a workshop I attended earlier this year he made me realize I had been asleep at certain points in my life when messages were being thrown in my face like pies. (My words)

So recently I found myself trying to figure out where to go next; what I want to be when I grow up; what is the next iteration of my work. My usual clan of mentors, colleagues and professional groups were providing nothing. I decided to get some consultation from my favorite clown. Jef was in town from Mexico and I booked some time.

2 hours later; lots of clarity; some great ideas; and of course a completely different focus of growing One Less Meal and how it works into my speaking/consulting work with organizations looking to tackle employee happiness and those employee/customer experiences.

Scared? A little.

Excited! A lot!

So I’ll take you back to those questions: Who is your mentor? Who do you learn from? Who are the people you turn to when you need to solve a problem; whether it be a biz idea or a personal challenge? Do you invest in yourself regularly?

But I’ll add one more:

Is it time to turn to someone you think can least likely help you and open your mind to unexpected things?






Help! The FISH went Belly Up!

As more and more companies are understanding the importance of and critical need to address Employee Happiness there are some that have been doing it for quite some time. One of the approaches companies have taken over the years has been to employ the FISH philosophy. If you’ve not read the book, you should. Of course, after you read Diary of the Happiest Employee On Earth (check out the low Kindle Price being offered thru Recess At Work Day on June 21st. (Now how was that for a bunch of references and self promotion?)

Anyway the 4 Principles of FISH are:

  • Play
  • Make Their Day
  • Be Present
  • Choose Your Attitude

But what happens when the FISH goes belly up?

Got two emails in the past week from newsletter subscribers and clients with employee morale committees who have adopted FISH. Both emailed me looking for ideas. Both shared that their FISH committee is going or had gone belly up.

I’m a fan of FISH. How can anything be bad when it includes a part about Play. But like any other philosophy, project or initiative, sometimes things run their course. Sometimes you need new ideas, fresh ideas, or a new approach. At some point people know what your outcomes are going to be because it is expected. At some point things start to look the same.

Think of it like a buzzword. There are people who still believe the phrase “think outside the box” is going to get people to react. At this point most people are rolling their eyes when they hear it. Or employee engagement, which attempts to combine morale and productivity. While it is still a hot topic; it too will run its course with people who work in that world. In some cases it already has been replaced with Employee Happiness. FISH, like any other philosophy, is a great philosophy. But it too will run its course. Just like Recess At Work Day has for some organizations.

So what do I suggest? That the committee fry up the fish, celebrate the success they endured and find a new place to play.

Of course I told them maybe it was time to take a RECESS from FISH and institute the R+EE part of the R+EE+CE=$$ philosophy.