Bob Tamasy: What’s With Customer Service?

Monday, May 13, 2013 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

In the classic film, “Miracle on 34th Street,” there’s a scene when Kris Kringle, Macy’s Department Store’s designated Santa Claus, tells a parent unable to find a gift for her child to go to Gimbels Department Store instead. That’s a picture of what customer service is all about – even if it means sending a customer to a competitor.

I’ve been wondering what’s happened to this whole notion of customer service. At one time, too many salesmen in stores became pests, hovering nearby as you examined their merchandise at your leisure. Today, however, finding any sales associate is tantamount to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Often we even have to trudge across a store to make a purchase.

Several weeks ago I bought a new, expensive light bulb to replace one that had burned out in the range hood above our stove. Last week the replacement bulb burned out. So I went back to the name brand, big-box hardware store and exchanged it for another. The packaging for each of the new bulbs that matched mine was torn apart, so I purchased a different bulb a store associate stated would do the trick.

When I got home, however, I opened the intact packaging only to discover the new bulb was cracked in three places. So I returned to Name-Brand Hardware Store again, bought a bulb that seemed sound – no cracks – and brought it home. But this one didn’t work either. (Hint: When you pick up a bulb and you hear something that sounds like broken glass inside, it probably is.

Lastly, for the second time in one week, the national newspaper I subscribe to – which is delivered every morning with the local daily paper – didn’t arrive. I called the newspaper’s circulation department, received the obligatory “I apologize” and “I’m sorry,” and was assured the periodical would be delivered by 3 p.m. As I write, it’s 4:30 – and still no national newspaper!

We often read about the woes of the retail industry, citing declining sales and often decrying purchases made online rather than in stores. Is that any surprise, when retail institutions have cut service to the bone until it bleeds and we receive as much personalized attention on the Internet?

Years ago, entrepreneurs like J.C. Penney and Sam Walton built their businesses on genuine interest and concern for their customers, who felt valued and received help when needed. Penney and Walton were men of faith, undoubtedly motivated by biblical passages like “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12) and “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

Modern-day business, loosed from the moorings of a Judeo-Christian worldview, prefers a short-term, profit-centered approach. Customers are treated like cattle rather than valued assets that help the businesses to survive.

God actually set the best example. He took a “customer service” attitude when He sought to reconcile rebellious humankind to Himself. In Romans 5:8 we’re told, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” And Jesus declared in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Wow! If that’s not the ultimate in customer service, what is?

---

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.)



Bob Tamasy: Accentuate The Positive?

From time to time we’re treated to new renditions of old favorite songs. I remember when Faith Hill, then a rising star in the country-western world, recorded a twangy version of Janis Joplin’s classic, “Piece of My Heart.” Barbra Streisand has just released a new album – yep, she can still sing – in which she does duets with popular male singers. For one of the songs, “Love Me ... (click for more)

Storytelling Event At Grace Episcopal

The public is invited to celebrate the Winter Solstice with music, stories, poetry, and dance on Sunday, Dec. 21 from 6-9 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.  The event is sponsored by the Joseph Campbell Mythological Roundtable of Chattanooga. "Christmas and the New Year are just days away. ... (click for more)

Investor Group Plans $31 Million Hotel In Chattanooga Bank Building

An investor group announced that it is planning the development of an upscale 150-room hotel in the historic Chattanooga Bank Building. MCA is comprised of 20 EB-5 investors as limited partners with Red Leaf Development, managed by David Roos, as the general partner. Long-time partner PHG is involved in the development of the hotel and will be responsible for its management ... (click for more)

Police Say Texts From Slain Minister Detailed Drug Deals

An investigator testified Thursday that a minister who was beaten to death during an apparent drug deal had texts on his phone dealing with similar exchanges of illegal drugs. The minister's wife said he had gone out that night as part of a church counseling program to women. General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck bound charges of felony murder and especially aggravated ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Last Day Of School

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story first appeared in the Chattanooga News-Free Press in the early 1980s and every year since then I have been asked repeatedly about it. It is easily the most famous story I have ever written – copies have been sent to me from numerous foreign countries -- and it may be the easiest story I ever wrote. All I did was write what the noted religious psychologist ... (click for more)