The 2 Most Important Words When Serving Others
I worked at a busy golf facility for 26 years. Golf, food and beverage, events, lodging and retail were involved, so customer service and building relationships were always focal points for us. Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about that word service, and what it means. From a customer’s perspective, I think there is a set of expectations – and how they are met – that will determine if they thought they were served well. How expectations are met, not met, or exceeded, greatly influences their experience. As a leader in the organization, I knew we weren’t going to get it exactly right every time, but I did insist that everyone was engaging, attentive, and showed they genuinely cared about our customers’ needs. The words care and need are the most important pieces of serving in my opinion. Most employees in customer service businesses probably meet the minimum expectations of their customers, but when they exhibit true concern about the needs of their clientele, then service is taken to the next level.
People want to be around people they know care about them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lifelong friend, or a customer that visits your establishment only once. I’ve been to 5-star type places where the service was impeccable as far as being pampered and nice amenities go. I must say though, the best service experiences I’ve had were at more modest places where the employee(s) took such an interest in my time, it was exceptional. That care can also make up for any shortcomings, budget issues, or challenges your organization may have in delivering the best product possible. An authentic, caring attitude impacts people in a profound way.
In the business world, service may be part of our jobs (and that’s important), but what about in the “real” world? ...talk about needs to be met. I’m certainly not here to lecture about serving others more, but I believe it may be our most important function on this planet. I talk and write a lot about getting away from being too comfortable in our lives and impacting the world and others in a positive way. I gave a speech the other day and used a favorite Jackie Robinson quote, “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Just let that sink in a little. Now, there are lots of ways to impact people’s lives positively, but I believe when we serve others, we have the biggest effect. Plus, it fosters a caring, heartfelt connection with other people that the world can surely use more of.
Being labeled a servant has a largely negative connotation in our society. It’s counterintuitive to our Western world idea of freedom, independence and leadership. In my experience however, the best leaders, employees and people I’ve been around definitely have that servant’s heart that has been written and talked about so much. They are not afraid to do what is necessary to meet the needs of whomever and whatever the circumstance in front of them calls for. It could be as close as serving your immediate family, or as far away as those across the world you never knew existed. And this is serving in its purest form – when we don’t do it because it’s part of our job or some other similar situation. I’m talking about seeing a need, and caring enough about those involved that we throw off the blanket of “comfortable” in our lives that’s so easy to snuggle under. When we pull the trigger on serving someone or something that we’ve had a nagging feeling about…that just won’t seem to go away. When we humble our hearts, lower ourselves, and truly serve.
In my own life, I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough, and there is so much need in the world, that it can be overwhelming to figure out how or where to start. My mom told me a few years ago, that sometimes it’s as simple as seeing a need…just saying yes…and showing up. That’s a great place to start.