Wrestling with customer service

Sep 4, 2008Archive

Today I read another interesting post by Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson. He talks about the importance of customer service, of meeting folks’ needs, of spreading goodwill through our internet presence. It’s an interesting post. You can read it here.

Here was my comment about his post. It’s a bit philosophical, and I certainly don’t have all the answers, but it’s something I think we should dialog about.

Other than twittering, I’m doing all the things you mentioned. (I tried Twitter, but having everyone know what I’m doing all the time tripped me up.) Here’s my conundrum:

When we lived in France, there was absolutely no such thing as customer service. If you walked into a store, trying to exchange something, you couldn’t. And you were met with an angry look.

Many times, I’d say something like, “Well, I will never come back to your store then.”

“Fine. I don’t care,” was often the response.

So you can imagine my joy when I returned to America, the land of customer service. Suddenly people followed me around in The Gap, asking if I needed anything. Folks bent over backwards to make me happy. And, oddly, it made me feel uncomfortable too.

I wonder (and maybe this is controversial) whether customer service can be construed as feeding our hedonism? Pushing us to more and more selfishness? Reinforcing a demanding spirit?

Of course, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. And I certainly didn’t relish being scoffed at in France. But, truly, is it good for me for people to fawn over my needs all the time?

In France I learned how to weather disappointment better. I learned how to exist in frustration without blowing up. I learned patience. And now that I’m back in the states, I’m finding myself slide back into impatience and anger, giving in to a demanding spirit.

Sure, I love customer service. Absolutely. And I strive, as an author and book mentor, to serve people well. But I wonder if there’s some sort of hedonistic line we cross when it’s always about making people happy about us and our product. Maybe it’s not a businessy way of thinking. 

I’m curious what your thoughts are.