I’ve been receiving quite a few questions/thoughts and ponderings about the heart of customer service. Is it just about putting the customer at the center of your business? Should we just focus on service and everything else will fall into place? Is it about partnering with our customers? What is really the essence of customer service?
In one very important word- I think that the heart of customer service is…. RELATIONSHIPS. According to Webster’s Dictionary, one of the meanings of relationships is a “state of connectedness”. I think that is a wonderfully simple way of summing up the definition of relationships- to be in a state of connectedness with another. But how exactly is this achieved?
The first step to being connected with someone else is to be connected to one’s true self. Who are you really? Are you the person that you want to be or are you the person that you feel you need to be in order to please others? When we are not living the authentic life, it is hard to connect with others because we are not quite sure how we fit or connect to them. It sometimes may feel like we are forcing a square peg into a round hole when we are not quite sure who we are or what we believe in. We may say that we are certain things such as polite, helpful, caring, compassionate, courageous, etc. but is that the way that others see us? If there is a disconnection between who we think we are and how others view us, we are going to struggle with that connectedness that creates solid relationships. Spend time with yourself and identify what you believe in and identify if your behaviors are in synch with what you tell yourself you are.
The second concept we need to understand in order to create this connectedness is a philosophy of win-win and a true belief that what other people think and say is just as important and meaningful as what we think and say. How many times do you find yourself “listening” to someone else, but what you are actually doing is simply thinking of all the things that you want to say back to the person in defense of what you feel is the “right” answer. When you are truly “listening”, you are taking in what the other person is saying with a completely open heart and receptive mind and attempting to deeply understand their point of view. If you are spending time thinking only of your response, you are not in connection with the other person and you will miss vital parts of the relationship. When we selfishly put ourselves first, we will not really be in a state of connectivity with the other person.
The third item that is important in order to create this state of connectivity is the patience to stay in the moment and not project to what we think the outcome will be. My grandmother recently found a quotation from someone that said, “Your situation is not your destination”. But how many times do we allow our current situation to dictate what we think the outcome will be? Stay present in the moment and focus on what you can do to keep the relationship going in a positive direction.
All of this may sound pie in the sky or not really a part of customer service, but serving customers is so much more than the term “customer service”. Put on a new lens and consider whether you truly have the heart, mind, and soul of a servant who puts the other person first.
MOMENT OF REFLECTION
Step back and press PAUSE for just one minute and consider how you are serving the people who are need your service…
Do I have a serving heart? Or am I going through the motions and missing opportunities to build and value relationships?