At 11 years old, I began my working life—cashiering for my family’s grocery store. I was not aware of it then, but I was learning about customer service. At the time, I was just excited to receive a pay check so I could go to the mall on Saturdays. I became the smiling face who greeted our customers as they walked in the door. I came to know about their lives and families—I even still remember some of the regular customers’ lottery numbers! I learned to say thank you and mean it as I counted back their change (the old-fashioned way as my dad taught me). I learned that customer service is based in relationship building and genuine caring for others, coupled with a sincere desire to fill their needs. Of course, I was learning from my father’s example as he joked with our customers, asked about their children or parents, sometimes offering delicacies at almost cost—items that were normally unaffordable in our blue-collar neighborhood—building loyalty and thanking them for their patronage that kept our family’s business going.
In The Simple Truths of Service by Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz, the authors state, “Great customer service has to come from the inside out. You cannot mandate it. You can’t threaten, reward, or coerce people to care. You can only awaken the desire and then give them the permission and encouragement to make it come alive in their work” (p 71). Today as a Human Resources Professional I consciously make the effort to take the spirit of service with me into my work. This innate desire to fill the needs of all my stakeholders has helped me create lasting and loyal relationships.
My customers are all internal—the company, managers, and employees. As HR Manager, I’ve often been the smiling face that greets new employees, communicating the company culture, policies and benefits—a representative and profit protection for the organization first and foremost. As HR Manager I’ve created learning relationships with department managers—always with the goal in mind of finding out what they need and how I can help them achieve their goals for their department through hiring and retaining the right people. As HR Manager, I’ve been able to help employees with their requests—from benefit enrollments to FMLA and more. I’ve discovered that when I approach the balance of company, managers, and employees from a customer service orientation I can create win/win outcomes. Thanks Dad!