Customer Service as a Model for Christian Service

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Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
July 2017

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Customer Service as a Model for Christian Service

Cackie Upchurch

Recently, over the course of ten days, I experienced the worst in customer service and the best in customer service. Two different companies, two radically different experiences. One caused distress and anger and high blood pressure while the other actually led me to thank God for good people who are there to be helpful!

In the world of business, a customer is a client or a purchaser. In our ministry, a customer may indeed be purchasing materials, but we think of you primarily as co-ministers. You are serving the needs of people in your local communities and we hope to help you do that with greater ease. In fact, you are providing service and so are we.

My experience with service recently caused me to reflect on what it was that made the good experience actually good, and what made it truly service. Maybe by sharing some of my “learnings,” we might learn a few lessons about Christian service too.

  1. Be a good listener. When we listen to others, we are not simply making sure we accurately hear their words and fulfill a request. Listening also requires being sensitive to the mood and tone of the speaker (admittedly more challenging if contact is made through text or email). In my good experience with customer service, the person heard the need and concern in my voice and automatically listened before speaking. She knew what I wanted by my words and she knew why it was important to me by my tone of voice.

  2. Appreciate the person who is in front of you. Our days are filled with multiple tasks and varied requests. The customer who bothers to call or write a note has chosen to take time believing something worthwhile will come of it. Good customer service focuses on the caller or the patron. In ministry, that means we pay attention to the person and his or her request at that time. Even if ten things are swirling in your head, learn the discipline of being present to the one thing, the one person, who needs attention in that moment.

  3. Always find a way to be helpful, to say “yes.” Some of the most irritating experiences with customer service occur because the desire to be helpful seems to be missing. In ministry, there will be times when we don’t know how to address a need but we must be willing to find a way that can move the situation forward. Offer to gather more information; seek out someone who has authority to make a decision you cannot make; offer an alternative way to respond to the need being presented.

  4. Learn how to empathize and apologize. When a person truly wants to serve a customer, there has to be a willingness to hear a complaint. In fact, good customer service expects that complaints, even the ones that seem off the wall, have some element of truth in them. An apology is offered before both parties can move forward. In ministry, we also need to learn the power of saying “I’m sorry,” of admitting a mistake and acknowledging how someone may have been hurt or disappointed.

  5. Go beyond expectations. In my recent good experience, the agent of the company not only helped me find a solution to a problem I was having with something I purchased, but she also found a way to offer me something I had not expected as part of the resolution. She surprised me with an added kindness. What better model for Christian service than to be big-hearted and generous! After all, Jesus always gave more than expected.

Be kind to yourself. You are a work in progress too. It’s not about perfection but about intention and the willingness to continue learning how to serve.

How could I speak about customer service without thanking those at Liturgical Press and here in our Little Rock office for the capable and Christian service they hope to provide for you when you contact us? Thank you to Carmen Donabauer, Liz Owens, Lynda Schulte, Diane Sobania, Nancy Lee Walters, and Brian Woods.

Cackie Upchurch serves as director of Little Rock Scripture Study and enjoys writing and speaking with groups to help them fall in love with God’s Word.

Dashed Hopes, When Our Best-Laid Plans Fall Apart Please be sure to order your copy of the newest volume of Alive in the Word. Laura Kelly Fanucci is the author of Dashed Hopes, When Our Best-Laid Plans Fall Apart. When life feels broken, what comes next? These reflections on three passages of Scripture are sure to give you plenty to pray about and ideas for how to live well even in the midst of disappointment. Great for individuals and all kinds of groups.

Summertime is the right time for dreaming and then planning. If you want to know more about a particular Little Rock Scripture Study offering for your fall offering, visit our website, call our office (501-664-6102) or like our Facebook page.

For more information about workshops, Little Rock Connections, or to offer suggestions, or submit items, please contact:
Little Rock Scripture Study
PO Box 7565
Little Rock, AR 72217

Little Rock Scripture Study

Little Rock Scripture Study, PO Box 7565, Little Rock, AR 72217-7565
Liturgical Press, 2950 Saint John's Road, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.858.5434 or 320.363.2213
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