customerserviceLet’s visit Merriam Webster for a moment. The origin of the word “service” is derived from a Latin word, “servus” which means, “slave or servant.”  Maybe that’s where the expression, “the customer is always right,” comes from.  After all, if you are a slave to someone, then your master has the final say. Here are some of the Webster’s definitions for the word “service”:

  1. Employment as a servant (“Entered into service”)
  2. The work performed by one that serves (“good service”)
  3. Use, help, benefit  (“glad to be of service.”)
  4. Contribution to the welfare of others
  5. Disposal for use (“I’m entirely at your service.”)

The list goes on, such as “the act of a male animal copulating with a female animal.”  None of these definitions make me feel all “warm and fuzzy”. How about you?

Now let’s take a look at the definitions of the word, “Customer.”

  1. One that purchases a commodity or service
  2. An individual usually having some specified distinctive trait. (i.e. a real tough customer.)

No wonder an individual may be skeptical when they are asked to provide good customer service. To boot, then are evaluated and rated like no other time in history. How many times have you bought something, and then been asked to participate in a survey afterward?  Even worse, thanks to blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and sites like  www.yelp.com, www.trustedplaces.com, www.buzzillions.com, www.insiderpages.com, www.sharedreviews.com,  www.viewpoints.com the customer can blast you with almost no chance for you to defend yourself. You are basically guilty before proven innocent.

But why do individuals and/or companies sometimes get blasted through social media?  I would wager that a few negative comments stem from a basic failure to provide a value in the fees charged for services rendered.  Most negative comments occur when basic tenants of human interconnection are violated.  Ever had a great meal in a restaurant, but given a lukewarm review because the service was barely acceptable?  Sincere effort and a genuine smile go a long way.

So what’s the solution?  I propose that two paradigms need to change.

First, everyone is your customer.  Certainly, if you are trying to sell someone something, then that person is a customer. What about your work colleagues? Do you ever need something from them?  Let’s drill down deeper. What about your wife or husband? Isn’t this person also a customer?  Do you need their support to get through the day?

Second, if everyone is a customer, then customer service should be looked upon as providing acts of benevolence, courtesy, grace, indulgence, kindness, or mercy depending upon the circumstance.  A job description for any position is merely the ante or bare minimum of how an individual is required to interface with another in a work capacity.

If everyone is a customer, then why aren’t there also job descriptions for a wife or husband?  Why not for a parent?  Despite countless books written on any type of job or on marriage or parenting, every situation will be unique. In the end, great service boils down to a positive mental attitude.

In my prior blog, I gave credit to Lennon and McCartney’s lyric, “In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”  The great rewards for superb customer service are compliments that go far beyond a mere tip.  The ultimate reward for extending consistent, heartfelt courtesy is a consistent heartfelt courtesy and gratitude that is indeed, priceless.

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