Good Customer Service Begins with “PMMFI”-Please Make Me Feel Important

Posted by on February 24, 2012

Communication has fallen in to the alphabet soup zone. First
LOL. Then TYVM. Or BRB.  Now…PMMFI. What the….?

Put My Mother’s Flowers In? Plan More Major Flawed Ideas?
What is this PMMFI (pronounced “pumphy”) you speak of? And what does
it have to do with delivering world class customer service?

Kerry Singh, organizational development consultant, corporate trainer and speaker, puts her own spin on the acronym. “Please Make Me Feel Important” is the mantra she repeats during the 23 years she has been leading training experiences for many organizations, such as Kohler Company, Lakeville Public School District and the United States Department of Defense.

The Shakopee Rotary Club ( was fortunate enough have her as a guest speaker for one of their November programs. I was fortunate enough to have a notebook and pen handy, so I wrote down some of her words of wisdom.

The most important part of customer service is to “delight our customers-to truly make their day,” says Kerry. Anyone who has a business or is an employee knows that the customer or client is most important.

Remember, there are two types of customers: external and internal. The external customers are the people we interact with in person, on the telephone or via email. The internal customers are our co-workers in our organization who rely on us for services, products and information to get their jobs done.

Every one of these customers has practical and personal needs. The practical needs are the reason for interaction: to obtain info, ask for help, share a concern or request a product or service. The personal needs are what customers bring to the interaction: the need to feel respected, listened to, understood, involved in a meaningful way, valued and supported.

When you bring PMMFI to the table, it encourages open, two-way communication. It also strengthens relationships because people believe you value them and what they have to say. It doesn’t matter what career field you are in or are training for-business, accounting, veterinary technology, medical assisting, criminal justice or paralegal-making others feel important is the key to success.

Positive words build positive relationships.

Try to avoid “Dangerous phrases” such as

  •     I DON’T KNOW
  •     NO, I CAN’T DO THAT
  •     WE WON’T
  •     WE NEVER
  •     YOU’LL HAVE TO
  •     I HOPE SO

These all can promote a negative relationship.

Over the holidays, my daughter, 10, was getting ready to travel with her dance unit to visit a nursing home to perform dances from their Winter Show. I reminded her to use “pumphy” with the elderly folks she would see.

“You remember what PMMFI means, right?” I had been so impressed with Kerry’s talk, that I shared the acronym at the dinner table. We talked about how it makes you feel when you make someone feel important, and how it makes THEM feel.

“Yes,” she said. “Please Make Me Feel Important.”

“And who are you going to make feel important?” I asked her.

“The people who live at the nursing home,” she replied.

“Good,” I said. That was her audience, or her customers that day.

When she returned from the nursing home, I asked her if she used PMMFI on anyone that day.

“Yes, I did,” she said. “I asked an older man in a wheel chair how he liked our dance.”

I was imagining her sweet little face, looking earnestly at his as she made him feel important by asking his opinion, by showing she cares.

“What did he say?” I asked, thinking of course he must have loved it. I mean, who doesn’t like little rays of sunshine?

“He said we were okay, but that the Hopkins dance unit that came to dance for them last week was better,” she shared matter-of-factly.

I gasped, shocked at his lack of tact. “Oh, Jenna! I’m so sorry! Did that hurt your feelings?”

Jenna shrugged. “Nah,” she said. “No one has ever taught him about PMMFI.”

What about you? Who are your customers, clients, important people, family members? Has anyone ever taught you about PMMFI? Do you use it?

Developing and maintaining good customer service is a basic skill taught in our Business Administration courses. Please contact Dick Anderson, Business Program Chair, for more information. (952)516-7063 or


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