A standard of grace

The line between business and customer, ministry and church member, can get blurry pretty fast. 

You can NEVER forget that numbers, statistics–the bottom line–represents a person.

Whenever I get frustrated, this is what comes back to me. 

You’re talking about a person, Audra, take a chill pill! 

Whatever problem I face (real or perceived) can be traced back to a real life person. A person with their own personality, flaws, interests, hurts, hopes, and dreams. 

He or she also has a list of problems….

A little grace can go a long, long way. And here’s another thing to consider: 

Most of the problems I face can be traced right back to me. Did I mention that I am not good at giving grace to myself?

About that….

Don’t forget about extending a little grace towards yourself. We all make mistakes. It happens. 

Let me be clear: There’s nothing wrong with having a bottom line, a set standard to aim for.

Just be sure that the standard you set doesn’t become more important than the people you serve and live/work with. 

I’m finding that having grace as my standard is the best way to go. It keeps everything in perspective.

The biggest lie in the whole wide (business) world

“The customer is always right.”

This is the biggest lie in the business world.

It’s also the biggest reason why most employees do not like customers.

These are the game rules:

A disgruntled customer complains to a manager. The customer was, in fact, wrong. The manager turns around and berates the employee for not appeasing the customer. The employee then quietly loathes all customers.

Everyone loses.

If the customer is always right, then the employees are always wrong….

And that can’t be right either.

So where’s the truth?

As usual, it’s somewhere in the middle, hiding in plain sight.

A few weeks ago, I talked about how everyone is in the people business.

It’s in this universal truth that we find the answer to the question.

Sometimes the customer is right, sometimes the employee is right, and sometimes they’re both wrong.

Each circumstance is unique.

That’s why it’s wrong to wrap the core of a business model around a faulty truth.

Good managers understand this point. If given the freedom to lead with discernment, these managers create happy environments for both customers and employees.

Unfortunately, a lot of good managers are trapped by red tape. There’s nothing they can do without getting themselves into trouble.

And so “the customer is always right” comes back like a bad dream….

Not everything can be about the bottom line. Statistics–pie charts, sales goals, projected profits–can only measure so much.

The entrepreneurial spirit is spreading like wildfire for a reason.

I’m so excited that our society is breaking out of the Big Box and returning to cottage industries.

Cottage industries focus on people, on a bigger picture where dollar signs aren’t everything.

I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but relationships matter. Even in business.

You’ll only get so far using people as rungs because the corporate ladder is falling down.

But you don’t have to go down with it.   

Customer Service Matters

Do you remember your first job? I do. My first “real” job was as a college recruiter.

The dreams that I had of reaching out to college students, seeing them choose my college…I was so excited. Never mind that I came into the job toward the end of the recruiting season. My numbers were going to be awesome!

I remember the first student that I recruited. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming. I gave that student and her family the royal treatment. No request was too big or small.

The same thrill comes to me anytime I sell a product online or at my booth. “They chose me!” I think, “What can I do to help them further?”

A satisfied customer is akin to a drug high for me. Presenting a product. Closing a deal. What could be better?

I never want to lose this excitement.

Going back to my time as a college recruiter, I realize that I wasn’t the best. My colleagues were way ahead of me in their numbers. But I know that the students I recruited received the best of my time and effort.

Many businesses are too focused on the end goal: meeting their quota. Customers become another tick mark instead of being treated as an invaluable asset. Lots of my business colleagues are on straight commission. They’re often much better at grasping the importance of people to their success.

Comfy, unseasoned “professionals” are the only ones silly enough to ignore the value of great customer service. Maybe a few months of bologna sandwiches and Vienna sausages will wake them up.

The entire economy is in the people business. Clever sales techniques and fancy websites will only take you so far.

A high level of customer service–a great respect for other people–is key.