Friday, January 19, 2007

Customer Service Week and Religion

I get many requests to give talks and keynote addresses especially at colleges’ staff training day or week. Now I love to do these talks because it gives me a chance to get the word out on the value of customer service not just to student and retention and enrollment but also on staff morale, retention and productivity. I love them too because I still wonder if I should have stayed in stand-up and not gotten involved in teaching then administration. They give me a chance to use something we don’t have enough of in academia – humor. We take so much so seriously, especially ourselves. And sometimes, don’t take our customers and the services they demand to stay at the school strongly enough.

Proof? For one, we have things like Employee Development DAY or WEEK. Sort of like Tom Lerher’s National Brotherhood Week parody in which he sings "thank goodness it only lasts one week." Wouldn’t want to have to be nice to everyone too long after all. And we wouldn’t want to focus on developing new and better skills everyday just as we do in the classroom. That would be… well, what we say we do in colleges- educate people and help them grow to their potential.

Yes, it is great to have a day when we close most, at least some offices, and have people focus on customer service. Like I said, I love doing the talks and they do have some long term effects. Especially since I follow them up with check-ups to see how things are going. But the right way to do customer service training is daily with a good plan and reward system. The plan should come out of a review or study of what the real problems are. And then developing and constantly focusing on a simple message such as the Standing on One Foot part of my training or talks.

It is from the story of Rabbi Hillel for whom your own Hillel Center is named if you have one. A short version. He was challenged by an apostate student to tell him the meaning of the entire Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel pulled up one foot and said “Do not do to another what is hateful to you”. I extrapolate. Do not do to another what you would not want done to your daughter, your son, your father or your mother. Husbands and wives don’t count as some prove too often.

Don’t do to a student or co-worker what you would not want done to your son, your daughter, your mother or your father. All the rest is commentary.

The commentary is important as I am sure all who have read the Torah (Bible Part 1) would say. And then there is very important interpretation and how to apply it running forward form all three major Western religions. But, variations of Hillel’s statement form much of the core of every religion and customer service as well.

But, as religion takes daily application, devotion and training, so does customer service and development. Sermons and teachings are often daily or at least weekly. We teach our classes at least twice or three to four times a week. Let’s give employee growth and development their due and focus on them every day. Be glad to help.

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