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.)



Fall Festival/Trunk Or Treat At Orchard Missionary Baptist

Orchard Knob Missionary Baptist Church,1734 East Third St., is hosting a fall festival and trunk or treat on Saturday from 1-4 p.m.  Ages 4-11 are welcome to come for fun, games, food, and candy. The event is free and they request no costumes, please. For more information, contact the church at 423-629-6115. -- (click for more)

Heritage Pointe Baptist Hosts Harvest Hangout Oct. 31

Heritage Pointe Baptist Church, located at 60 Dyer Bridge Place in Ringgold, will host a Harvest Hangout with a bonfire, hot dogs, hayride and trunk of treat on Friday, Oct. 31 from 6-8 p.m. The event is free and everyone is welcome to attend.   If you need more information please call  706/858-0976 . (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)