Who is your customer?
I've held several jobs in my lifetime, many of them in a Customer Service field. I've worked for a fast food restaurant, a bank, and in various areas of the insurance industry. Regardless of the company I worked for, one basic theme remained: you are here for the customer.
I transitioned to an IT position 3 years ago and thought that I could take my Customer Service hat off, but I soon realized that the departments we serviced now became our customer base. Learning how to serve people is a lesson that I think we all learn and relearn throughout our life.
How You'll Be Remembered
In a recent mentoring meeting with my manager, we talked about leadership and building the right skill set. One of the areas he mentioned was customer service. Working well with others is more than just working with a team to provide quality work on time. How you work alongside your peers, your management, and other areas within your company is a part of customer service. My manager said the biggest lesson he learned is that people will forget what you say in a presentation or what you do during a project, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Customer Service Voice
If you've ever worked in a customer service industry, especially in a call center, you have most likely developed a "Customer Service Voice." It's like putting your best foot forward, vocally speaking. You sound more patient, kind, understanding, enthusiastic, and sympathetic than you normally would in real life. I've been told many times that I have a "nice tone" to my voice when speaking on the phone, whether that be to a customer or leading a conference call with coworkers. This did not come naturally - it was learned over time.
My "Customer Service Voice" is something I have always left at work at the end of the day. It's a side of me that I didn't bring home. Listening to my manager talk about how people will remember how we made them feel made me realize that I was missing a huge opportunity. I realized that my biggest and greatest customer, my family, was not receiving good service.
Service Starts At Home
Maybe you can relate to the following: you come home from a long day, you're tired, maybe a bit stressed, and just want some quiet. The people you love more than anything in the world, and who love you equally as much, want to hear about your day and tell you about theirs. But you are short with them and hope they will understand. They are your "safe zone" where you can let your guard down, after all. If you can't be stressed, tired, upset, etc. around them, then who?
If you're a parent, maybe you can relate to this one: your child comes home from school and it seems like they saved all their energy for you. They are running, jumping, screaming, and making a mess. They might even be disobedient and disrespectful. You open their backpack to find notes from their teachers that they are doing well in school and they are always a pleasure in the classroom. It seems like they save their best behavior for when they are outside of the house but their worst for you. But, you are their "safe zone" where they can let their guard down, after all. If they can't be a bit wild, tired, upset, etc around you, then who?
I compare these two situations because I have found them to be true in my own life. I often come home and forget all of the great customer service lessons I use at work. I don't want to put on a fake "Customer Service" voice for my family, but I could readjust my tone more. I could anticipate their needs more and realize that they too may have had a difficult day. I could appreciate that my daughter sees home as her safe space to be free and a bit wild and that even though I don't always feel she has learned the lessons we are trying to teach her because I don't see them at home, she obviously has because she knows how to behave in public.
Most importantly, I could focus on making my family feel the same respect and appreciation I provide my customers and coworkers with during the day. I could bring some of the skills I've learned at work home, wrap them in love, and present them to my family. I know many years from now my husband may not remember the gift I gave him for his 30th birthday, but I hope he will remember how much I love, admire, and support him. My daughter may not remember the times I let her do my makeup, but I hope she'll remember how much I love and encourage her.
What about you? Who is your customer and how can you better serve them? It doesn't have to be your family, it could be a friend or a neighbor. Leave a comment below and share one way you'll better serve them this week.
An ongoing discussion about growing up, passing on, and the ties that bind us together. Following Jesus is a family affair — no matter who you call your family.