Service is ultimately about being kind.
When I first had the idea of developing a culture of service, I quickly wrote down the top ten “concepts” I learned over my 30 years in service industries. It wasn’t until my web designer told me there were 11, not 10 concepts that I realized I miscounted. As it turns out, the 11th may be the most important that I had heard while listening to a podcast on customer service. The 11th Fab Service concept we’ve all heard at some point in our lives “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Also known as “the golden rule.” The company featured in the podcast was The Colonel Littleton leather company. When the founder was asked what’s his secret to his great customer service, he said it’s simple and we have it posted in big letters on our factory floor. He was talking about the golden rule.
Isn’t it that simple? Do we really need more advice than that?
For some more ancient wisdom, I like to get advice from the Stoics who had some sound fundamental advice on how to live and behave. I’m most intrigued by the stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius who was the Roman Emperor in the second century. Here the most powerful man of his day, and possibly ever, believed that joy in life comes from “acts of kindness to other human beings.” He wrote those words in his “Meditations” which was a diary to himself on how to be better. The Roman emperor writes that the secret to joy is being kind to others? Who was this guy?!
In reading on customer service, I just saw that there are 1,324,570 books available on sales and marketing from Amazon and only 30,198 on customer service. Is it no surprise that good service in our world today is lacking yet we are bombarded by sales and marketing messages by the second?
Being service-oriented is an attitude but it also has to be practiced.
Reading about how to give good service is easy. Putting it into practice is another story. Reading about being kind is easy. Being kind when someone is rude to you is difficult.
So how do you act kindly when a customer is demanding or even wrong about a situation? Like everything else in life – practice! Practice not getting upset when outside of your job. Practice not judging a situation before hearing the other side. Practice putting yourself in the other person’s shoes. Maybe he had a bad day or is dealing with some personal issues, etc.
If Marcus was right, the service industry provides ample opportunity to find joy. I think it starts there. Being grateful for the opportunity to serve and being positive about it. That attitude will certainly result in kindness, which is the ultimate in good service.