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Representing Christianity

They say the customer is always right.  In reality the customer is often wrong.  Yet somebody way back made a policy for his business that tried to follow this principle.  The principle really breaks down like this.  No matter how far off base or totally wrong the customer is, they are always right.  Why is such an absurd statement treated like gold?  Well in business they determined that it is better to agree with the customer instead of ruffling feathers.  It is better to leave the customer with a favorable impression of your company even if you have to bow to their demands.

I got in trouble one time because of the customer always being right.  As I mentioned before I worked in a famous department store selling clothing for men.  One day I was working the floor alone.  I don’t know if it was thought to be a slow day or what, but here I was an 18 year old kid working the whole department by myself.  As it turned out the place got extremely busy.  Customers were lined up at my register and I was helping one after another.  There was a lady that was interested in buying a suit.  She wanted my help immediately or someone to assist her in finding the right suit.  Since I was the only one there and obviously the policy was to tend to the paying customers first, I couldn’t.  I smiled and told her that unfortunately I couldn’t help her right now.  As I was helping my long line of paying customers this lady apparently ran upstairs to the store managers to offer her complaint of not being helped.  The lady was right.  She deserved to be assisted in her effort to buy a suit.  Why did management only have one person on the floor? The answer to that question didn’t matter and was never answered.  The customer blamed me for not helping her.  In this case an 18 year old kid making close to minimum wage and doing the best that he could took the full hit for the customers dissatisfaction, because as we all know the customer is always right.

Telemarketing can be very annoying as you know.  The call usually goes something like this.  You pick up the phone “Hello”.  There is silence for a few seconds then someone comes on the line.  Mr. Hamilton, yes…and then the sales pitch begins.  My name is so and so from blah blah blah, and on and on they go.  I think the person takes a deep breath and doesn’t breath again until they have at least got through most of their talk.  I know it is a thankless job and most people hang up on them I would imagine.  I realize too that they are playing a numbers game.  They figure if they call so many people one person will say yes to whatever they are selling.  Yet to me this kind of marketing does not leave a favorable impression of their company.

I’ve been considering buying some business cards for this site.  I’m thinking it would be easier to give someone my card instead of always writing down the website.  The first place I checked was a place I could order them online.  I thought their prices seemed very reasonable, but I thought I would try a local place or two where I could meet someone in person.  The first place I visited a middle aged man helped me and he represented his company well.  He basically told me that he could not compete with the online business in price but wished me well.  I visited one more place and a guy in his twenties helped me.  He seemed to have the attitude that I couldn’t get a better deal than what his company offered.  I honestly told him that the prices he was quoting were not in the ball park with the online prices.  He responded by giving me the amount of business cards that his company sold every month.  To be honest that fact did not make any difference to me.  I was interested in a quality product at a price savings!  I didn’t care what everyone else was doing.  If he would have said “I can’t touch their prices, but if you want a quality product and don’t want to go through the internet to order I can help you,” I think I would have left with a better feeling about his company.  In fact I don’t really like the inconvenience of going through the internet.  If he could have made me a competitive offer even if it was a bit more along with his personal service, I probably would have been interested.  Instead I left feeling like i was talked down to.

This past weekend we had to have our car serviced.  Since we were told it might take an hour and a half we decided to walk over to a Burger King close by.  I have to say that this particular Burger King made me smile!  Their employees were very friendly and helpful.  I know it helped that the place wasn’t very busy when we came in.  The girl that rang us up actually stopped back a couple of times to see how we liked our food.  Along with other things we ordered one of their new shakes.  The manager was very friendly and actually sold me on getting the larger size!  It was a pleasant experience to feel that they really cared in a business where so many times it is very impersonal.  Often I’ve found when ordering fast food people are running around trying to fill my order without giving much thought to treating me like a unique person.  This experience was different and it caught my attention and made a very favorable impression of them and Burger King for hiring them!!

I see commercials all of the time promoting  large companies that are in our town.  Millions of dollars are spent for advertising to give their place of business a favorable name.  Yet, you and I have had experiences where one employee of that large multimillion dollar company has either made the company better or worse in our eyes.  My Burger King experience  was brought about by the people who worked in one location that day.  It had nothing to do with the millions of dollars they put out for advertising.  The extra time those employees took  made me feel special and important.  My experience with the second business card company made me feel small.  The salesperson made me feel like I didn’t know what I was talking about and that  he knew it all.  Maybe it was just me but that perception from five minutes in his store left me with a bad taste in my mouth.  It doesn’t matter if his company throws a million dollars into advertising to get me to come back, I won’t.  My experiences and yours are far more powerful than any advertisement.  When we think of doing business with a company, we think about how we were treated by that company in the past.  That one person represented their company in a good or bad way and makes  or breaks how we think about their company.

There are times when I have had a legitimate complaint about a company and the representative knew it.  Yet, they are trained in the felt, found, feel theory.  Their canned statement goes like this.  You know I felt the same way, until I found this and now I feel this way.  In theory it sounds like it should solve every problem.  It also sounds like they are agreeing with you.  After all the customer is always right so agree.  However I’ve found that people can be so fake saying the line that they are trained to say that it comes across as totally fake.  When they say “I know how you feel”, are they saying it with feeling or is it just words?  Do you really believe they know how you feel?  Then there is always the word “but”, as in I know how you feel, but this is company policy.  Somewhere back there the customer is always right has been replaced by the felt, found, feel statement.  It comes down to caring  not just words.  If I feel that someone really cares and are not just sputtering words, I am apt to start or keep a business relationship with their company.  If not I will look somewhere else and recommend that my friends and family go elsewhere too.

As Christians we are representatives for our Lord Jesus Christ.  As his representative I want to shine the best light on who I am representing.  This is not a case of “the customer is always right.”   Many times the people that are looking at how we live are not right.  They realize that there is something missing in their life and are looking for answers.  They are looking for people who are not fake and who walk the talk. They are looking for someone who cares about them and truly loves them.  I may be the only Christian somebody comes into contact with.  With that in mind I can either make Christianity an attractive way to live or I can turn people off.  I am only one person but as we’ve seen one person does make a difference.  The person examining me may be at the turning point of their life.  How I represent may either make or break their decision to accept Jesus.  Do I make them feel small or important?  Do I show that I truly love them and want to give them what I have or does the words I say have no feelings?  It’s very critical that I represent Christianity well because the stakes for my examiners are very high.  They are much higher than what fast food restaurant they will eat at or what business card they will buy.

I’m The Only Jesus They Will See

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

They will not read the Bible
they’ll go through life their way,
turning off all the preachers
and what they have to say

They will not go to church,
it’s all fake anyhow
Just out to get their money
there’s bills to pay right now

So how then can we reach them
and see a change of heart?
How can they get total freedom
to make a brand new start?

The responsibility is mine,
it’s entirely up to me
Lord help me shed your light today

for I’m the only Jesus they will see.

Join with others in following my
example, brothers, and take note of
those who live according to the
pattern we gave you.

Philippians 3:17

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One thought on “Representing Christianity

  1. Customer Service is the best advertising a company can do. A friendly smile in person by an employee who says Hi or goes out of their way to be helpful is worth more then an expensive ad on tv or the internet.
    Same goes with Christianity, we should definitely practice what we preach. :)

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