Friday, June 07, 2013

Customer Service: Serving Angels Unawares

In customer service, they say, you rarely know the customers’ story; who they really are or what they are really going through. An example of this would be the Dr. that came into our store after having a patient die on the table; the customer service he received helped him face the day. The most ordinary people we serve may have amazing backgrounds.

I saw Joey Covington’s picture in the paper today. Sadly he died by car crash at the age of 67. I knew him as the funky musician that came in and ordered a coffee and a latte. He usually came by in the afternoons as he often played gigs til two or three in the morning. I had no idea that he was a drummer for Jefferson Airplane or that he co-wrote Jefferson Starships’ “With Your Love.” He played locally and will be largely missed on the local music scene.

One of my older customers took over a hardware store from his father in Alaska. According to the free library, “During World War II, a period of growth throughout the territory, the fledgling company entered into a contract with the U.S. Army to produce sleeping cots. The Army job gave the building supply company a steady source of income and provided the catalyst for product diversification and expansion.” In the 1970’s, …”Because of continued market growth in Southeast, he opened a new store in 1974, directly across from the downtown location. Sparking the company's expansion was construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which fueled another economic boom and drove up the desire for both commercial- and private-sector projects throughout the state.” He used to come in regularly for latte’s until his wife put him on a budget citing the current administration as the reason.

His new show opens soon on the Bravo network. His bio states that he ‘is a hotelier, designer, art historian and television host with a wealth of knowledge in architecture, the arts, design, people and travel gleaned from 17 years spent abroad and working in different fields, running his own businesses and immersing himself in different cultures.’ He has opened a hotel in Morocco, a business selling furniture and objects from around the world as well as renovating and developing properties in England and abroad.

We have no idea whom it is we serve. They may be well to do hardware store owners or accomplished rock musicians; they may be the maid from the hotel across the street. The idea is that we serve them well. C.S. Lewis once said that we would be overcome if we saw people as glorified or ruined as they will be at their end. One never knows, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. “

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