3 Customer Service Do's and One Don't

3 Easy Customer Service Do’s and One Don’t
The inspirational Lunch Lady
High school graduation is right around the corner, Friday to be exact. All our fingers and toes are crossed hoping that our daughter will be one of those vaunted young people crossing the finish line. Hallelujah. It looks like it will happen.
Rachel finally paid off that whopping $2.70 lunch bill…after six emails, 22 phone calls, and three lectures. The Lunch Lady—she’s nothing like Chris Farley in this classic sketch—threatened to not only withhold her diploma but to take her first child too. I mean really, are things that desperate? But then my dear friend said 2,000 students x $2.70 (I’m so mad that she made me do the math) = $5,400. It becomes crystal clear why all those harassing phone calls were necessary. Let’s hear the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” to celebrate the payment of $2.70!
With all the graduation and just-getting-through-school hub-bub we have had our share of working with many, many people at our local high school. We have experienced not-so-good and great customer service.  In some ways, schools may be a more akin to churches than other non-profits. They’re not typically associated with being a “business” but there are lots of opportunities for interfacing (that’s a fancy business term) with people who have a vested interest in the goings on of that institution…just like a church.
Here’s a “don’t do”:
Don’t make your “customer” feel terrible after interacting with you.
This recently happened to me. There was a goof up. The ad that we purchased for a special publication was omitted. I wrote and asked about it. In response, after beginning the email in a lovely fashion and apologizing, the message writer went down the “this was really your fault” path. Even if it was—which it wasn’t—it poured salt on the wound. And then made me mad. Not good.
I’m happy to say I’ve experienced way more “do do’s” than “don’t do’s” (I needed to crack myself up so I indeed said, “do do’s”):
1. Do make people feel special.
One person in the high school has provided us with attention way above and beyond the call of duty. She has held my hand (maybe not literally – but just about) and calmed me down on more than one occasion. She returned phone calls and emails promptly. She was our hero.
2. Do empathize.
Even if you don’t know what the person in front of you is going through, you can still figure out a way to understand his or her feelings. On so many occasions, teachers have acknowledged our irrational concerns, told us we were in good company, and helped us breathe a little bit easier.
3. Do laugh and be positive.
“Pollyannas” get a bad rap. Never did I feel like my feelings were being discounted but I did feel like I had a group of cheerleaders in our corner. When people are anxious—irrationally or not— you can be the non-anxious presence. You can be the person who adds a touch of levity and changes the mood.
So I tip my hat to all those hard working teachers and school administrators who are ready to take a well-deserved break. And, I also tip my hat to all of you who consistently do the right thing and practice great customer/congregational care. It’s not necessarily easy dealing with me or the general public…but God bless those of you who make it all look so very easy. You make a difference, you really do.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She wants to congratulate her sweet girl, Rachel and thank her for paying that $2.70 bill. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.