Customer service: it can make or break you

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The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said:
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.”
The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”
Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, “Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls.”
He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before the three men; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.
They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
He replied, “There in the tent.”
One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”
Genesis 18:1-10

* * * * * * *

It’s a bit long, but I wanted us to be fully aware of what transpired in this story and how it could be useful for us even today. In a nutshell:

  • “Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.” He did not know these men. It appears they were total strangers. I also do not think he knew the Lord was appearing to him in the form of the men.
  • “When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them.” Why would Abraham run to meet and greet three men he did not know? Shouldn’t he be afraid of potential robbers, bandits or rapists, and turn them away from his tent?
  • He bowed to the ground and asked if he could perform a favour. When I visited Japan recently I was impressed by the amount of bowing people did to us as a sign of respect. Abraham did even more. He offered water, rest and food aka lots of refreshment – to people who were not friends or family.
  • Abraham had bread and tasty meat prepared along with curds and milk for his guests. Now I am not a ‘Cookist’ and people dropping by just like that tends to seriously throw me off so it is possible Abraham’s request involved some serious preparation strategy for Sarah especially since this visit was (a) totally unexpected, (b) catered to not one guest but three, (c) involved kneading bread and cooking meat i.e. not a simple one pot meal or a dish which would be ready in 15 minutes.
  • He waited on them under the tree while they ate.” Abraham didn’t just brush off his visitors. He was the perfect host and Sarah was blessed with their son.

Why is this story so important? Yes Abraham fully attended to God’s men and looked after them in a fantabulous way. As a result he was blessed with Isaac. Yet the other significant point here is this: what an example of customer service at its finest! Abraham went above, beyond and sideways even, to ensure these men he had never seen before in his life were taken care of. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go into a store or restaurant or some other place of business and be served thus?

Here’s my story: One weekend I went to a local iShop to purchase something for Nathan. As you know, any product with an ‘i’ in it is not cheap but you would never have believed this based on the service we received. After waiting for quite some time we had to actually approach one of the service reps, who then referred us to a supervisor, who ignored us when she finally appeared from somewhere in the back of the store. No smiles, no ‘happy that you are buying something so that I can keep my little job here’, no positive attitudes, nothing at all that would suggest they had been trained in how to serve customers buying high end products. I was so not impressed, not to mention quite upset. But on the flipside, we went to have some jewellery repaired at a store across from the iShop. The guy there was sooooo polite and friendly! Now why would he make us feel happy about spending $15 with him vs. the iShop people with whom we were spending lots lots more? Abraham served not one or two but three big-able men. He didn’t serve them a coke and some sweet biscuits; he had bread baked and fresh meat cooked.

Customer service can make or break a business; it can also make or break an individual. Whether you are a child of God or not (but I honestly believe more so if you do acknowledge God as your Father) we are here to serve and support each other. The days may be hot, cold or in between but we need to pause and look up to see who is standing by. Then we need to run to them, and sincerely offer some kind of ‘refreshment’ (tangible or spiritual). It could be a kind word, a prayer, a book, cash, clothing, a plant, a hot dish, a dessert, a hug, a message on Monday or another day; the possibilities are endless. And after we have done everything we can, we must sit and wait with them as they rest a while on this journey called life.

As someone who lives and breathes customer service not only locally but regionally because it forms part of my corporate role, these verses were a wake-up call for me.  Maybe I’ll print a few copies and keep them in my handbag for sharing when I experience bad or sub-standard service in the future … wish me luck!

In the meantime, here’s wishing you all a Happy Monday and a meaningful week of extraordinary service 🙂

Looking for some additional customer service facts? Then click here ->

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Barbadian mother and lover of laughter; story teller and best-selling author; happy to follow God's lead and to live my mantra: "you've gotta be a rainbow in the lives of others when it rains."

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