The Business of Service and Kindness

A friend recently told me a story about her awful experience with her cable provider’s customer service department. She said that even though her problem was resolved, the agent on the phone made no efforts to be kind. “Isn’t that his job?“, she questioned. “He is being paid to provide a service. He is being paid to be nice.” That got me thinking…aren’t we all in the business of giving service? Everything I do is an action to help someone, or do work for someone. In fact, most of us doing just that, we just have not realized it yet. For me, being in the hospitality industry it is a word that is drilled in to us, but for others with titles that use terms like “ambassador”, “manager”, “developer”, etc., the aspect of service may not be so obvious.

Let me give you a breakdown of my profile. LinkedIn lists me as a Hospitality Professional and Consultant, who is currently working as a Hotel Management Instructor, while also holding a Registered Yoga Teacher certification. Each role I play requires me to do something for someone else. When I worked in a hotel this was clearcut: our entire position depended on the quality of service that we provided to our guests. As we move up in the chain of command, the aspect of “serving” does not go away. When I became a manager, my role still required me to serve my guests, but at the same time I was now required to serve my employees through coaching, training, and professional development. Moving in to the role of an instructor came with a new idea: now the students will be doing what I ask them to do, whether that is completing an assignment, or writing an exam, or doing a presentation. However, lo and behold, all of those tasks they completed depended on the quality of teaching I provided to them – hence, service. When I decided to become a yoga teacher, I read articles talking about the joys of self-employment, working for yourself, self-fulfilment, and other wonderful things. But all of these, once again, relied on one key factor: my ability to provide the service of yoga to group of willing people. The lesson here is simple: no job exists without the aspect of service.

Once you understand that everyone is providing a service, it changes the perception. Going back to my friend’s story, the only reason she expected him to be nice was because of his title as “Customer Service Agent“. Had his title been “Information Giver”, or “Problem Solver”, maybe the expectations would not have been so high. To discuss the concept further, I asked my college students to identify good service, in the case of Starbucks vs Tim Hortons. The general consensus was that Tim Hortons employees do not provide good service because, in spite of their speed and accuracy, they do not smile at their customers. Their conclusion was the same as my friend’s: good service is determined by the kindness of the person delivering it. Take this idea and connect it with the definition of service I explained above. If we are all in the business of giving service, shouldn’t all of us be expected to be kind?

That is the idea I leave with you with. I battled with a closing statement, but the above question may be sufficient to explain the point. I do welcome discussions, though, so please do let me know of your thoughts! Love to all xx


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