Excellent customer service seems rare today. Businesses that offer prompt, friendly, and efficient customer care stand out in a culture where sloppy service has become commonplace.
I opened a new bank account recently, and the manager promised to send a debit card and checks in the mail within seven to 10 business days. Five weeks went by. No card, no checks—just a service charge deducted from my account. When I phoned the bank, an automated answering system offered an array of alternatives, but none of the options included talking with a human who could fix the problem. Finally, I drove to the bank and explained the situation to the manager, who merely shrugged her shoulders and muttered, “Yeah, that happens sometimes.” No apology. No explanation. No “Thanks for your patience” or “We appreciate your business.” Apparently, the manager was having a bad day, but she made me feel like a nuisance—and wish I had chosen a different bank.
Her attitude contrasted sharply with the kind stranger I encountered a few days later while changing a flat tire alongside a busy highway. A fellow who happened to be a mechanic stopped to assist. He quickly helped me change the tire. As he prepared to drive away, I mentioned paying him, but he said, “Don’t give me money. That would ruin the blessing!”
Those two encounters stirred some self-examination. Do I serve others with a cheerful spirit, or do I treat people like an inconvenience?
More Than the Minimum
Eleazar faced a tough assignment. His boss, Abraham, instructed him to travel to a distant land and find a wife for the boss’s son, Isaac. How could Eleazar find the right woman? And why would she marry a man she had never met? While Eleazar rested his camels by a well, he prayed earnestly for God’s guidance and decided he would recognize God’s answer if a woman not only offered him water to drink, but added, “I’ll water your camels too.” (A thirsty camel can drink an enormous amount of water.) Prayers don’t always receive immediate answers, but before Eleazar finished praying, Rebekah stepped forward, gave him a drink, and said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too.” God deserves praise for answering Eleazar’s prayer, and Rebekah stands out because of her willingness to go the extra mile.
Followers of Christ shouldn’t be satisfied with doing the bare minimum. Love those who love you? That’s easy, but Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Lash out at those who mistreat you? That’s an understandable human reaction, but Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Will offering exceptional customer service impress your boss? Perhaps, but more importantly, Scripture says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
God’s grace motivates us to go the extra mile and surpass normal expectations. On the job and in the neighborhood, that kind of attitude will “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10). The church thrives when we give extra-mile service to first-time guests and long-time members. The light of Christ shines through small courtesies like friendly smiles, warm welcomes, prompt replies, sincere apologies, and gracious responses to requests and complaints.
Like Rebekah, let’s water the camels too.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
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