Service as Circus

“The circus is coming to town!” were words that started every child’s heart racing where I grew up.  You did not “go” to the circus; it came to you.  Schools closed and business shut down so everyone could go to the three-ring Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey big top!  They had the funniest clowns, the scariest animals, the most thrilling trapeze, the cleverest acts, the best-tasting popcorn, with sights and sounds rarely seen by folks living in rural areas.  You wore a grin for days after going to the circus.  And, it dominated conversation in the school hallways and got reenacted on the playground!

Service can be a menagerie of sights and sounds a lot like a circus.  It can be scary like not getting something promised on which you depended.  It can be funny like Annie Lou’s jokes at the CVS check-out.  It can be thrilling by exceeding your expectations or clever like a restaurant remembering your favorite whatever.  It can have sights and sounds that create a cacophony of dissonance or a symphony that becomes the basis of pleasant memories.

If your service were a circus, what part would your customers focus on?  Which emotion would they say you stimulated with the experiences you create?  What part would you prefer they say?  And, what can you do to help make that prediction come true!  “La-dies and gent-le-men, boys and girls of all ages.  Wel-come to the great-est ser-vice show on earth!”

© Chip Bell Group, 2023.  Courtesy of John R. Patterson (  Permission is given to download and distribute this article as long as it contains this copyright notice.