TWO PAIR and CUSTOMER SERVICE ZEN
Recently, I observed my five year old during his various machinations to prepare for a morning trip to the store. There’s a lot for him to do. Change out of PJ’s, find shoes and socks that match (or not), grab rhino and silver (not red) water bottle. Stuff crayons, string, and bendy wire into pockets (just in case), then check for battery life in action toy or video game. Hat, wrong coat, one glove and game on!
I was chuckling to myself as I watched my giant, self-invented armadillo waddle to the car literally trying to hold his act together. As he was clambering inside the vehicle I spied something unusual. Peeking out of the back of his pants was not the customary one tag confirming inside-out underwear, but the heretofore unseen two tags, representing the unique choice of wearing two pair of underwear at the same time.
I just caught the WSJ story about how Delta Airlines, after getting crushed in customer service ratings is sending all of its agents to charm school. http://on.wsj.com/i1OTVN It seems that Delta had a problem - an awful big problem-- showing customers that it cared about them.
Personally I’ve had a brutal past couple of weeks at the hands of “customer service” providers. From this week hit-parade, I’m choosing to share the interaction between myself and the apron-wearing-neo-troglodyte who was working as a cashier at a big box retailer that never stopped inhaling his super-sized soda as I set my items down and stepped up to pay. I waited until he had his fill (which would be me in a display of extreme patience) and then as the paying customer inside of me said “Wow, you just got dunked on by a full-blown uncaring attitude”, I slightly nicked him back with an upbeat “That’s not much of a greeting” and he responded “You’re lucky I didn’t spit it in your face.” Later, you can ask me how everything “after” unfolded, but for now I think most everyone is on the same page; there is an increase in super-sized sodas and a decrease in super-good service.
All of the above brings me to Zen. Much of my formative years were spent in Boulder CO, home of the University of Colorado, Naropa Institute http://www.naropa.edu/ and Jim Collins http://www.jimcollins.com/ - For those of you that do not happen to be regular users of the word “Namaste,” Boulder is also the home to many climbers and runners in pursuit of Zen, whom some unenlightened locals have been known to call “Zenners.”
I left Boulder awash in “isms.” If you have any contact with the Left Coast’s farthest outpost it is likely that you will saddle up next to Ram Dass’s http://www.ramdass.org/index book and famous quote - “Be here now!” (I have always taken that to be both an instruction and admonishment). By living in the present moment, you offer yourself the best chance to make the most of that moment and subsequently the most of your life. The powerful and distracting habit of thinking about “what’s coming” or “what happened“ only undermines your best present efforts.
CHECK YOUR UNDERWEAR AND NEW ZEN CUSTOMER SERVICE
It pains me to say this, but my kid’s brain starts doing doughnuts in the parking lot just hearing the words, “Let’s get ready to go.” All his efforts are just a smash and grab at the goal of “being ready” to the best of his 5-year-old-ability. We are working on him getting him to slow down through the understanding that he is not going to be left out/behind by the rest of us. Now with less distraction he can fully devote himself to each task (underwear check, double-check), get it right, and move on to the next step.
It may seem a bit “out there” for some folks responsible for the hiring/training/developing customer service employees to start with “full presence in the present moment” as a base line for success, but I’m going to do it anyway. Like many problems “better customer service” might be best tackled by breaking it down into the lowest common denominator.
There is also a way to say this