The Secret to Good Customer Service

Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a…

Tom-portrait-150x150Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H). Here’s his post:

‘You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?’ asks the LORD., Malachi 1:13b

A few years ago, I signed up for a new online banking account and ran into problems. The site told me representatives eagerly awaited my call, so I took them up on their offer.

While I dozed during the on-hold music, someone finally mumbled a quiet string of syllables containing the word help. I explained my problem. Then re-explained it. After some frustrating banter, he summoned his boss, who offered to transfer me to their Web department. No thanks.

Pride motivated me to start the online process again. But of course I got stuck in the same place and called them back, and after another runaround, the lady promised to credit my account a whole $5 as part of their five-star service guarantee. I finally figured out the problem on my own. (I never received the $5.)

In another frustrating instance, I got home from an international trip, but my luggage didn’t. Seems the airline decided the plane was too heavy and pulled bags off indiscriminately. No one let me know my suitcases weren’t on the plane, so I waited at the carousel until other people’s baggage became more familiar than my own. I filed a claim at the airline’s counter and was told my stuff would be delivered as soon as possible.

The next day, a delivery guy left a message that he was in the area and needed directions to my house (even in the day of GPS and Google maps), but we never connected. The following day a different driver was on the job and left a message regretting that I wasn’t there to accept my bags. Finally, on the third try, a guy dropped by with the goods. He seemed impatient that I had been such a difficult customer.

Where is the heart of service in most organizations today?

Speaking on behalf of employers, we really do want to hire people who were born to serve! But they’re hard to find.

The Old Testament prophet Malachi brings ancient wisdom to bear on the issue. He stresses that God demands his people’s best, both in their service to him, but more importantly in their hearts. The prophet implores them to quit focusing on the process of worship and sacrifice, and rather change their hearts about what they give to God. They thought their pious rites were what God wanted.

In the same way, employee training is good, but it’s even more important to hire people who are already caring, helpful and friendly at their cores. When someone has a heart for finding solutions, reading a customer service script is the furthest thing from their mind.