I remember my junior high school social studies teacher, Mr. Hall, telling us how different the world would be when my classmates and I grew up. We were becoming a service-focused society, he said, and this would figure prominently in our future occupations.
October is Customer Service Professionals Month, and reflecting on my career path, I’ve been thinking about Mr. Hall’s words. I may not have consciously set out for a career in customer service, but now that this is what I do, I cannot imagine doing anything else. I love my job and the sense of satisfaction that comes with it.
Examining the obituaries of others in my field, I notice what a proud bunch we are. Customer service is not an easy task, regardless of what industry you serve. To do it well, you need to be an active listener, with patience, understanding, and an ability to connect with people. This hard work can be amazingly rewarding. Every time a problem is solved and a customer is satisfied, you feel a sense of accomplishment. In the best cases, you make a friend out of the person you assist, even for only a few minutes. Those who master customer service leave their interactions as their legacy.
Timothy Knight prided himself in helping staff and families of students at Michigan State University. His obituary highlights how his customer service prowess helped him fix problems: “A consummate people-person, Tim enjoyed developing connections across the university so that when a problem was presented, he could pull the right people together to solve it.”
For Kenneth D. Paul, Jr., customer service was both his inheritance and his bequest. Kenneth perfected customer service working with his father, took pride in his work during his lifetime, and handed his knowledge down to his son: “Ken’s legacy and work ethics have been handed down to his own son, who has been working with him for the last six years.”
Helen Helm “loved people and sharing her gift of hospitality.” Following the idea that you should do what you love, Helen translated her love for people into a career as a telephone operator and a top retail salesperson.
Lillian Allbritton and Francis Acerbo both turned their passion for customer service into a way to make lasting friends. Lillian used her sales ability to connect with new friends and Francis used his prowess at the gas pump to become a symbol of continuity in an ever-changing Florida community.