texting on duty“Customer service” is something that I still struggle with. Let’s be honest here. Being a servant is hard – very hard. I’m continually amazed that people say things like: “It doesn’t cost anything extra to provide good customer service.” They obviously don’t know anything about being a servant. The cost of servanthood is immense.

Good customer service is very costly. You just can’t add a smile to the process of selling and call that service. It doesn’t work that way. And you know what — be real — you aren’t able to smile all the time. You know as well as I do that there are a lot of days when you feel down in the dumps. Therefore, to rely on being pleasant all the time as your chief method of customer service, will mean that some people get good service and some get poor service.

You cannot run your business like that. It will only succeed when you “feel” good. If you don’t “feeeeel” good, then some non-suspecting customer is going to be on the receiving end of how you really feeeeel.

What it all comes down to is this: providing good customer service is linked to the reason for doing so. What is the reward for being a servant?

What are the Rewards For Providing Good Customer Service?

I know there is someone reading this right now that is thinking, “I do good customer service, because I get pleasure out of helping people.” I’m scoffing to myself… I think you’re lying because it is not realistic. That attitude will only carry you for a few days. This is what they say to you when you’re in church: “Doing good has its own reward.” And then they’ll say that to you again in 6 months, because you’ve somehow forgotten it. Right?

That’s why I said you’re lying to yourself. ‘Real’ people have problems being a doormat, because that is what you are treated like when you are a servant. Other people WILL wipe their feet all over you, and it is impossible to maintain a pleasant attitude under those conditions. I’ll say it again: being a servant is hard effort.

Therefore, voluntarily making yourself into a servant has to have a reward that is greater than the cost to you personally. What is it?

The bible gives three “tangible” rewards that you can bank on right now while you’re on the earth.

Preachers like to talk about the intangible rewards that you get in heaven. And because you only get “that” reward after you’ve died, most sane people see the advantage of putting off being servants as long as possible. Duh. It is like the death-bed conversion; “I’ll give my life to Christ when I’m on my death-bed; that way I can live life and have fun now while I’m young enough to enjoy it.”

What are the tangible rewards for being a servant that you can bank on right now? They are: “protection,” “provision,” and “promotion.”

Let’s explore these, and see how they affect customer service, and why it makes it worth being the servant.

Protection

Right now, because of the economic recession, people are really going the extra mile to hold on to their jobs. I’m sure you’ve heard people say things like: “work extra hard to please your boss, so that when the lay-offs begin, they’ll think twice about cutting you first.” Right?

And that is true. People that are working extra hard are more valuable to a company than the guy that is just going through the motions of work. Therefore, when tough choices have to be made about who has to be laid off when the work slows down, everyone knows who is going to get the axe.

You don’t have to be faster than the bear when he is chasing you. You only need to be faster than the guy you’re running with.

However, there is one additional comment to add to this. That is: “your boss (your customers) has a long memory.” They know how they’ve been treated in the past. If you’ve slacked off in the past about how much effort you’ve put into pleasing them, they remember it. But right now, they like that you’re putting out a lot of effort right now. Actually, that statement should be: “they LOVE how much effort you’re putting out right now.” But habits are hard to change. They sense that as soon as the economy picks up, that you’ll go right back to your same old habits of not caring, and not putting out extra effort.

The boss only protects from the chopping block, the person that has a long history of putting out extra effort. When times are tough, like they are right now, your new-found efficiency isn’t going to save your job. That is what is happening to a lot of companies right now; they have a new urgency of trying to provide good customer service. Yea, right. Customers aren’t believing it will last. So they are taking their business to companies that have treated them well in the past.

You can’t expect protection in the future if you aren’t being a servant today. Period.

See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Isaiah 60:2 (NIV)

Provision

To me, this seems so obvious. If you get good service from someone, and you like it so much that you want to experience it again in the future, wouldn’t you want to provide something extra to the person?

In a lot of cases, this extra provision is in the form of money. I bet you are willing to pay a bit more for a higher level of service just for the experience of being treated well. That’s why we go to fancy restaurants for celebrations, instead of a fast-food joint. Food is food, but the level of service is quite different.

But in tough economic times like we’re in right now, that form of provision may look like a personal recommendation. People are only recommending companies that have a history of good service because they want them to stay in business long enough for them to be around in the future.

We all take care of the people and the companies that have taken care of us.

“Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Proverbs 10:4 (NIV)

Promotion

Who gets promoted and the higher salary that comes with the extra responsibility? Right.

Again, at the current time with our terrible economy, companies are promoting people from within the company. They aren’t hiring someone from outside the company; someone that they have no history on, nor how well they work. That is why there are so many people at week 99 on unemployment. It is expensive to hire people, so companies would rather promote someone they know about, than to take a risk on someone they don’t.

It is the same with customers. They would rather do business with someone they trust, than to take a risk on a new company that is just promising good customer service for today.

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29 (NIV)

The Long Term View Of Customer Service

What makes customer service so hard is the long-term view you must take.

Many companies are doing a quick “lets up our customer service policies” and hoping for an immediate affect on sales. It doesn’t work that way. The promises may take years to come to fruition.

But they will come. I’m a firm believer in the three benefits and rewards for being a servant (protection, provision, and promotion). It is just very hard to wait to see results. Very hard. I’m like you. I want instant gratification on receiving the rewards of my effort.

But there is some good news. You can shorten the time between being a servant and reaping the rewards.

Next time: How to speed up the process and see the rewards sooner of good customer service.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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