Now That’s Service

Bill Reinert - Portland, Oregon
As heard on the This I Believe Podcast, December 15, 2014
Bill Reinert

Bill Reinert has been in the position of both giving and receiving customer service. He now believes that making the effort to serve the people in our lives the best that we can is a rewarding practice, whether in business or at home.

Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in customer service. I believe in listening. I believe in adding value to everything I do, whether it’s writing articles, teaching, or answering correspondence in a call center. You might call it the Golden Rule. I call it professionalism. I take pride in it, and it makes me feel good. Imagine how the customers feel when they get a little extra.

I sell parts for an appliance company. Rather than simply tell callers their order is on the way, I take a moment to see what day they can expect delivery. I do it because I know I’d appreciate it if I were on the other end of the line. People appreciate getting more than they expect—without having to ask for it.

When I receive the caliber of customer service that I dispense, I’m pleasantly surprised. I make a point of telling the agent how much I appreciate his or her help. I recently e-mailed the head of the hearing aid business I patronize to tell her how much I appreciate the staff’s professionalism. I didn’t even buy my hearing aids there, but they treat me like royalty.

If such were the norm, we’d all smile more. Stress levels plunge when you’re able to resolve a simple problem by speaking to one person rather than three or four—when you get the right answer the first time. When someone actually listens to me, apologizes for mistakes, and explains and takes responsibility for systemic flaws, I feel better. Bargains usually trump good service, but professionalism shouldn’t be taken for granted. We get what we’re willing to put up with.

When someone takes the time to ask clarifying questions and ensure that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision, it makes you feel good about having purchased the brand they represent. We should be able to expect that kind of relationship from everyone: retailers, politicians, bureaucrats, friends, family, and so on.

I unfailingly deliver coffee to my wife in bed at 7 a.m. every day before lurching out the front door to work. It’s a tiny thing, but my wife adores it. It makes her morning, she says. Most of the time she gets “miced” coffee with that little extra: three toy mice that she calls “the boys.” That she’s come to expect it doesn’t make it any less special.

I believe that commitment to give a little extra—at work, at home, or at play—makes us better, and makes the world a little better. Now that’s service.

Bill Reinert lives in Portland, Oregon, where he is a teacher, tutor, writer, guitar player, and crossword freak who loves the Great Northwest and its endless recreational possibilities. He loves great customer service, and he makes sure the little kids he works with get the best help he can deliver.

Recorded by John Gregory and produced by Dan Gediman of This I Believe