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.

Office antics rock

Office antics crack me up. 

My coworker left a note on my apple–the one that’s been sitting on my desk for the past week–and it caused me to belly laugh.

I was simply shocked to see my normally stoic coworker do something so silly. Of course, you’re talking to the girl who: 

  • Recorded her coworker trying a nori (seaweed) chip for the first time
  • Shot the same coworker with a Nerf gun daily
  • Hid behind doors and scared the same coworker
  • Included a joke in almost every email that I sent out

If I had to be super serious all the time…I’m just not sure that’s sustainable for me. 

I guess it’s good that every boss I’ve ever had thinks I’m kinda funny. In fact, many of them looked to me to be the resident funny person.

Humor is the key to job satisfaction. 

Forget all that stuff about having a good work ethic and all the right college degrees. None of that matters.

Okay, okay it matters a little bit. Though, having halfway decent people skills and a sense of humor are the true keys to success.

At least, it’s always worked for me…

Maybe I shouldn’t say it’s the law just because it’s working for me. (I’m not one of those annoying bloggers that claim to have all the answers.) 


Guard your response 

Be careful who you offload on….

Have you ever waited on hold for longer than 30 minutes and no one has a solution to your problem?

Talk about a frustrating situation. 

I’m not proud to say that on many occasions my response was not what it should’ve been. 

Yes, I repented and felt guilty–the whole gamut–but you can’t take back your words.

Let me say that again: You can never take back your words. 

The quicker you learn to surrender your tongue to the authority of the Holy Spirit, the better. 

Getting frustrated at the customer service men and women–most of whom are from India–will not make your problems go away. 

Frustration only begets more frustration. 

I’m not trying to excuse companies with poor customer service or faulty products. 

It’s just that our angry dialogues to customer service representatives aren’t changing anything. 

So why waste your breath?

Why work yourself into a frenzy?

The only person who ends up looking bad and feeling worse is you. 

Internet 101: Is this my pride talking?

Is social media fueling our pride?

I can’t get this question out of my head. Awareness is one thing, but shameless plugs about our good deeds is another.

What is our motive when sharing things online?

Proverbs 27:2 says:

“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.”

Jesus said:

But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:3-4).

These are the verses that are influencing my thoughts on this subject.

It’s a toughie….

nothingerasedI grew up as a people pleaser who lived in the shadows, always pushing others into the light. I used to think that’s what it meant to be humble.

And then I came to understand true humility–and it had nothing to do with my misconstrued beliefs about self-worth.

My discomfort now has nothing to do with my self-image. It has everything to do with the question of necessity.

Does everyone need to know that I did this? (Whatever “this” may be)

I have given money, support, and time to plenty of things. Normally, though, I ask to not be included in any online shout outs. There are exceptions, of course, but I will opt out whenever possible.

This post is not my legalistic attempt at being perceived as holy either. (That voice is screaming in my ear right now.)

I want us to have a conversation about this topic. I want to navigate these murky waters with you.

And I can’t ask you to engage in a conversation with me if I can’t be honest first.

Drop me a comment with your thoughts.

Practicing graciousness 

Ever gone out to eat and have your order messed up? 

Tonight I went out to dinner with friends. My order was fine, but their orders were completely messed up…..

At the end of our dinner, even my friend’s ticket was messed up! 

Oftentimes it’s awkward to tell a waiter, “Hey! This is all wrong.” 

You don’t want to be an overcomplaining customer, but you’re also paying for the food. 

The goal is to handle the situation with as much grace as possible. (Both of my friends were super gracious by the way.)

Sometimes it’s easy to be gracious, sometimes it’s not. 

I’m not saying it will be easy, but I do know that a little graciousness will go a long way. 
And, if that doesn’t work, have a chat with the restaurant’s manager. 

Being gracious is not the same as being a doormat. 

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.   

Helping with a willing heart

I talk on the phone a lot at work. It’s not my most favorite thing to do, but it’s a big part of my job description.

I work as an office manager for a self-storage and property management company, so most of my calls are about rates and hours and such. Sometimes people call me to ask for recommendations for moving companies or even for other storage companies in the area.

I have actually learned quite a bit by helping these people.

It wasn’t until today, though, that I realized they were not doing any research before calling me–not even a quick Google search.

My first response was annoyance. What a waste of my time!

But, as I’ve sat down and thought about it, what does it hurt for me to help them?

Absolutely nothing.

In fact, as I mentioned earlier, helping them is really helping me.

Sure, they are most likely not going to use my business. And that’s okay! We are not suffering.

I added three new customers last week. Our numbers are very consistent even in the slow times.

Every industry on this planet is in the people business. Ignoring customer service is not an option.

Without people, all of the widgets we make and the services we offer are completely useless.

And yet we treat others like they are only distractions from our to-do list or merely rungs to the top of the corporate ladder.

I am convicted by my annoyance.

Who do I think I am?

Who do any of us think we are?

If you have no room in your schedule to help others–even if they do nothing to help you in return–you need to do some serious reevaluation of how you spend your time.

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.