Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

The Importance of a Focus on Customers

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My wife Tammy and I eat out most of the time, as has been our practice throughout our marriage. As a result, we have a lot of opportunities to observe different levels of customer service.
I remember a time several years ago when we were having dinner at a major pizza chain that offered a buffet. The buffet was supposed to begin at 5:00 pm. But it was well after 5:00 pm and the restaurant staff was in no big hurry to get the buffet set up. We finally had to ask them about it, thinking we had gotten the night wrong. I realized later that the mostly high school age staff only saw this as a part-time job. They were going to just put in their time until 9:00 pm and then go home. There was no motivation to provide excellent service, or even acceptable service. They were going to be paid the same.
Have you run into situations like that? Often times the lack of attention in the area of customer service carries over into other areas of a restaurant, such as how well the facility is maintained, including the restrooms, or the appearance of the staff.  In such situations, asking the server for a drink refill almost makes you feel like you are bothering them, as they give you a dismissive “No problem”, or “No worries”. As you think back on such situations, you realize that your experience as a customer was probably less than desirable as there was little, or no, focus on you as the customer.
The same could happen at a department store. You are in a hurry, but the person checking you out, like the high school age workers at the pizza restaurant, are not. They are going to get paid the same no matter how fast or slow they check you out. Or what about waiting in a doctor’s or dentist’s office? You leave work for a 3:00 pm appointment and it’s 4:00 pm and you have not been seen yet.
It’s sad, but these days, I don’t really expect good customer service, and am pleasantly surprised when I do. I’ve become satisfied with just decent customer service. But think of a time when you just received flat-out outstanding customer service. My friend Neil often told me about the helpful staff at Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres.  Whenever he went to Petco Park, Neil told the staff that due to some vision problems, he needed to sit up high, behind the plate, so that he could see properly. The staff always went out of their way to accommodate him, providing outstanding customer service.
When I think of outstanding customer service, the name of one organization immediately comes to mind – Chick Fil-A. Their restaurants are always clean and in good repair, the appearance of their staff is excellent, and rather than “No problem”, you get “My pleasure”.  If your order is not ready at the counter, the staff will bring it to your table. They will often take your trash from your table, and many times will also ask if you would like a refill of your drink for the road.
Chick Fil-A’s outstanding customer service is no accident. It is something that is a part of their culture. Go to a Chick Fil-A anywhere in the country and you will hear the same “My pleasure”.
But what if you don’t work at an organization like Chick Fil-A that teaches, emphasizes and rewards good customer service? What if you work for that major pizza chain that I mentioned above? Neither the onsite leadership nor the organization’s culture emphasizes good customer service. Still, you can set the example of providing excellent customer service for your peers as you work heartily for the Lord and not for men (Colossians 3:23).
I spent my entire career at a major insurance and financial services organization, the last half in a large IT department. Many of my team members worked on project teams, where good teamwork was vital. Are you the type of team member that goes the extra mile to serve your teammates? Being a good team member means providing good customer service to your teammates.  You can do this by asking how you can help them. If they are overloaded and you have the skills and time to help them, jump right in to assist them.  That not only shows good teamwork but also excellent initiative. Providing excellent customer service is not difficult, but you do have to be intentional about it.
In all that you do – workplace, home, church, etc. – the Lord is with you as you represent Him in your work.  Do your work with joy so that you can say “My pleasure!”
What is an example of outstanding customer service that you received?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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