June 29, 2018

The upcoming July 4th holiday has me thinking about service from a different perspective. The servicemen and women gave for their country. Starting with George Washington who led his troops against all odds to win the freedom for Americans. Then when the war was over, Washington wanted nothing more than to return to his farm in Virginia and live a peaceful life. But the new country needed a president and no one was thought to be better than Washington for the job. Against his will, Washington accepted as he felt it was his duty to serve.  

What does George Washington have to do with customer service in today’s economy? I think to answer this, we have to get at the core of service and what it means to serve.  

We started this blog as observing that customer service is more than just handing a customer his or her order.  Over the past year, we’ve written about kindness, honesty, listening to customers and more. We shared experiences in service that made us feel good and not so good, and we tried to translate it to how we can each provide better service to others.  

Despite these concepts helping us with the how to give good service, it doesn’t get to the why we should give good service. To help me dig deeper on service to the country and how that relates to service in business, I called my nephew Mathew who is a captain in the United States Army. I asked Mathew why he decided to serve in the military when most of his friends were going into different careers? Matt had no problem answering this question and simply said, “Uncle Mike, I wanted to be part of something meaningful. Something bigger. I wanted to make a difference in this world.” Matt used words like “purpose” and “cause.”

My nephew went on to say honestly he sometimes forgets his purpose when he has to do mundane tasks.  When this happens, he steps back and looks at the bigger picture as to why he signed up in the first place.  

I’m typing this at the local Starbucks and, like every Starbucks I visit, the staff all seem to be really good.  They’re certainly more service-oriented than Dunkin Donuts (in my opinion). Why? What’s their purpose? I’m curious enough to ask but they are pretty busy and I’ll have to save that for another time because I want to get this posted for the July 4th holiday!  But if I had to guess, the staff sees a bigger purpose working for Starbucks which has a number of causes for which they are connected.

So, ask yourself why do you serve others?  What purpose does this serve? What satisfaction do you get from serving others?  I think these are good questions for a dialogue for which I look forward to having with each of you.

Have a great 4th and let’s all be grateful to those who serve us.