A Little Less Customer Service for Me, Please
I was in a meeting yesterday afternoon where a colleague of mine jokingly said something along the lines:
“But what about what I want? After all, it’s all about me.”
We all laughed. Sadly, I think we were all laughing because of how true it is. Not, of course, because we recognize ourselves in it generally, but because we’ve certainly been on the receiving end of not delivering IT exactly the way a person wanted it…which can be difficult when you’re trying to deliver something in the way, say, 500+ diverse people want it. I think it bothers me that we were talking about an environment that really doesn’t lean towards the me-centric and yet, culturally, we have ingested enough of this “tailored with me in mind” lifestyle that it should be giving us a complex, but instead is shaping our very interactions with one another. But I digress…
This all started me down a path of thinking about customer service and parenting, two great tastes that typically aren’t considered in the same food group. I love the customer service concept. For me, it’s part leftover brainwashing from retail management days and part craving for the adrenaline rush you get when you help someone and you know it. And while I’m not going to say we need to quit customer service and start treating everyone like dirt, I also wonder if we’ve gone far beyond customer service in today’s society towards something more unplanned and dark.
See, as a parent, if I give my children everything they want, try to meet their every need before they even realize they need it, make their life experience all pleasure and no pain or inconvience… Well, it would be ugly in short order. They would be spoiled, entitled, unprepared for life, unpleasant to be around. And the first time and every time they didn’t get things delivered to them exactly as they expected it or wanted it, the tantrums would be epic. As they grew to be adults, those attitudes and behaviors wouldn’t go away. They would just get more skilled and subtle and, dare I say, frighteningly selfish.
Which brings me back to the modern interpretation of customer service and what I see it doing within me. (I won’t even point fingers at you. You can do that all by yourself.) Maybe I need a little less customer service. Maybe I need to not get what I want all the time, or I need to work more for it, or I need to get to practice my patience a little more. And maybe when those opportunities come along, I need to see them as what they are – chances to chisel out my selfish wants and desires to recognize that this life isn’t all about me, my “give mes” and the elevation of my personal standing in the ranks.
Practically, I think there’s a line that we as a culture have crossed on this whole customer service and me-centered thing. I just don’t know where to put that line that allows us to show service by caring for one another without breeding greater selfishness. So, I’m going to continue to try and serve you, but I’m going to try to revel in those opportunities where I don’t get served.
Because it’s not about me.
Did you ever notice that when Christ taught his followers to pray, he didn’t teach them to say “My Father” or “give me this day my daily bread?” He taught them to say: “our.” Huh.