Why thinking of service as problem solving is a bad idea.

“Customer service is the business function responsible for fixing what’s broken.”

I couldn’t disagree more.

Let me begin with a tiny rant. I hate it when service automatically becomes customer service. I define service as helping people. And because of that, I see service as much greater than customer service. We don’t just serve customers; we serve team members; we serve family and community. Service is found in all kinds of places, in fact, it is necessary to our human survival. In prehistory, when we had to fend off the Sabre-toothed tiger, we needed to help each other. If we had not cooperated, nobody reading this would be here. Our ability and willingness to serve each other is our superpower. Many scientists believe this cooperative nature is what makes us so successful in the animal kingdom.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s look at the statement above in more detail.

This statement, one I have heard on numerous occasions, asserts that service is largely a reactive thing. It is only needed when there is a problem. Really!? If that is your thinking, your sales and relationship-building efforts with customers must stink. Those all need to be proactive, and yes, they both fall under the heading of service.

Think of walking into a restaurant. You are greeted by a host, they usher you to a table, a server comes to walk you through the menu, explain the specials, and take your drink order. They then return to take your food order. After a little wait, your food is delivered. Your server gives you space and comes periodically to see if you need anything further and to offer more drinks. All in all, a tremendous meal and restaurant experience. And…all of it is service. And…none of it is reactive, all proactive. And…no problems.

While service can be a reactive problem-solving thing, when done well, it is a proactive problem-preventing thing.

So, to whoever penned that statement above, you are dead wrong. Service is both proactive and reactive and is the purpose of your business. Thinking that service is primarily for problem-solving makes is clear that service is stuck in a silo in your workplace. When service is something only certain people do, you cannot deliver excellence. Excellence only comes when everyone is aligned to service as the chief vehicle for doing whatever it is your business does.

Think about it. Does everyone in your workplace think of themselves as service providers? Is service put in a silo? Does your organization think of service as primarily reactive, or does it see it as a proactive necessity?

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