Outback Western Wear in Magnolia, Texas, is famous for its wide selection of western gear, especially western boots. Western-wear fans in Texas take their boots very seriously, often spending a considerable amount of time getting a perfect fit, the right heel and toe, and the best-quality material, be it basic steer leather, or alligator, kangaroo, ostrich, or goat. A great fit requires trying on many pairs to find just the right one. At one time, Outback Western Wear customers being fitted for boots were asked “How about a cup of coffee or a soft drink?” The most common customer retort: “No thanks, but I could sure use a cold beer!”

The customers were really reflecting an attitude more than an actual request in their response—somehow the store’s opening question did not go with the smell of leather, the sounds of the late George Jones, or the rodeo photos on the walls. Today the store starts the customer refreshment query with, “Can I get you cold beer?” Sure enough, there is a large barrel of ice-cold beer in the store—not for sale, but for the refreshment of customers over twenty-one. Most customers opt for the coffee instead, but, their reaction to the greeting question clearly telegraphs their delight. And, the inclusion of “the right beverage” makes the first impression congruent with the rest of the experience.
Innovative service is not a copycat creation. Just because Nordstrom is known for great service and once had a grand piano and pianist in every , did not mean great service could be had by copying the practice in your hospital, dry cleaners or car wash.