The Gift of Service

It’s easy to talk about the importance of customer service. Most of us say that we understand that the customer comes first. We all get it. We all understand it. And yet, it’s not always how it plays out in reality.

I think we would all agree that when we are of service in any capacity, we are sharing our better selves. To be of service to another means that at the moment we are helping them out, we see them as the most important person in our life. We don’t judge them; we don’t see them as an interruption to our work; we don’t see them as annoying or too chatty. We see them as an opportunity. If we are serious about providing the best customer service, then our best shot at achieving this aim, is to begin by making sure that whatever the needs of the person we are interacting with, become what’s most important! We must exceed their expectations and create an experience for them that they are not expecting.

Being of service is a gift, but the true recipient of that gift will ultimately be you. The best way to know if you did an excellent job helping someone out is when you walk away and you realize that you feel energized from the interaction. Sure, by all appearances you helped them, but it’s the one who performs the service that gains the real benefit – the benefit of sharing our better selves.

To really distinguish your company as a leader, it’s important to understand what we actually mean by service. We tend to think that everyone gets it – that we all understand what that phrase, “customer service’ means. It turns out, this is probably less true than we might imagine. Every team needs to be clear as to what customer service is and how far they are expected to go. The standard is pretty easy and simple – we are looking to provide the most amazing experience a customer could possibly have when they are interacting with us. Why would that not at least be the goal? Don’t compromise on what you’re aiming for; there will be enough compromise when the actual interaction takes place. But keep the goal pure and aspirational.

Our jobs can be exhausting and incredibly challenging. And customer service is not easy! We need to understand what service is and how to provide it – and then our work will actually begin to feel exhilarating; for in the end, we are practicing our “better selves”. And with more practice, we become good at it. And once we’re good at, it tends to become more enjoyable. That’s the beauty of service – those who provide it, receive the most. It’s part of what we do, not just in our work but, as a member of the human community. As the beloved boxer, Mohammad Ali once said, “service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”