Customer Service Extraordinaire By Jo Russell

Have you noticed the entire aura of banks has changed lately? It’s all about customer loyalty and extraordinary customer service. Each is falling over the other with customer perks.

Banking is a far cry from the days I needed a washing machine, sought out a banker in the glass tower and asked her for a loan. She perused my paystubs, and sent me away with the message they weren’t interested in my kind – that being a working professional and single mom with two young children.

“You can always go to the Super Suds Laundromat in your spare time!” she called after me.

Spare time? As a teacher, I wondered if that fell sometime between June and August. What about the rest of the year?

Today as a baby boomer with grown kids, when I step up to the bank window, I’m showered with interest, eye contact, and a teller who welcomes me by name — though people only call me Josephine when they are mad at me. The teller gives a pitch for some of the new services and asks me if I need anything else.

“Your competitor just gave me a lollipop. Can you top that?” She gave me two.

After years of being a number, a name, and a bank balance, I felt nearly faint with all the attention. “Maybe I need to dress up to go to the bank and make sure that my socks match,” I thought after the last trip to the teller.

I pulled up to the drive-in window few days later, and after the enthusiastic welcome, service pitches, lollipops, Halloween candy, and a fall centerpiece, the teller offered, “How about a free car wash today?” He must have noticed my bug-smeared windshield and truck bed crackling with dead leaves.

What’s this really about? Customer service ratings and opinion polls. My two banks were neck and neck, but still ten points under the benchmark bank that initiated the program. In the big bank’s words, “A significant part of Bla-Bla Bank’s profit increase is directly attributable to increasing the quality of service we provide our customers.” Translated, it’s why they’ve been paying attention to us for the first time in a century. It makes profit. The lender image of Ebenezer Scrooge is gone forever.

In this season of generosity and giving that shadows the bank business, too, we need to get our hearts ready to give and serve for the right reasons. In the service of God, it’s not about profit, return, or customer service ratings.

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver,” [2 Corinthians 9:7.]

Doing extraordinary customer service for God doesn’t mean you have to pre-qualify with a financial portfolio, a designer suit, or matching socks. God will use you and what you have, wherever you are. He’s seeing the hearts like yours that are doing and helping where there is a need. That’s extraordinary customer service!

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]

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