CUSTOMER SERVICE & PLUMBING

By Kathy Shook
Shoppers, Inc.

Driving through the countryside last week, I noticed a church sign…you know those marquees where the pastors put up a bible verse of the week or cute quote.  The one I passed was:  “Be a fountain, not a drain.”

Consider the definitions of these two words…

Fountain:  Source; often of liquid.  Similar words include: bubbler, cause, gush, inception, inspiration, mainspring, mine, origin, play, provenance, pump, reservoir, root, spout, spray, spring, stream, well, wellhead, wellspring.

All these words conjure positive feelings, right?  Whether it’s just softly bubbling or gushing, a “fountain” gives you a sense of growth, calm and happiness.  Think about some of the “fountain” sayings we have:  a fountain of knowledge, of youth, of happiness, throw a penny into the fountain for luck, etc.

Drain:  Channel through which liquid runs off.  Similar words include:  cesspool, (yikes!) outlet, pipe, sewer, sink, blackmail, confiscate, deplete, exhaust, leech, squeeze, steal, strong-arm.

Again, these are words that conjure certain pictures and feelings…but not positive ones.  Drain equates to decline in nearly every usage of the word.  Drain of strength, drain on society, down the drain, brain drain, etc.

Obviously, the two words are opposites…whether you are talking about how they relate to water or to anything else in life.

It made me think about my customer service experiences.  You know, you get the person who just isn’t interested in helping you…having to deal with their bored attitude, lack of knowledge or just plain doesn’t get you what you need.  They DO drain me…when I leave the store, I have that feeling of being put through the wringer and my attitude goes downhill, too. Oh, I can’t wait to share my awful experience with the next few people I talk to!

But once in a while, I get help from a person who is warm, smiling, and helpful.  They do more than I needed/expected when I walked in the door.  They ARE a fountain…they radiate helpfulness, care and concern for me from the very beginning.

When we go to work, or deal with anyone else in our lives, let’s try to be that fountain…maybe not always a gusher, but at least a person who radiates warmth, smiles and a good attitude.  Greet our customers, offer help, do more than they expect—don’t just point them in the right direction, take them there.  Don’t just transfer them and hang up, make sure they get through.  Challenge yourself to be a fountain…let your bubbling touch each customer in a positive manner.  Make them become “fountains” too, by leaving you with a better feeling than when they came in.  You know, smiles, friendliness and warmth?  They are all contagious!

Leave the drains for the plumbers…even if it’s a bad day, shake it off and focus on being upbeat and helpful and smiling…and that bad day just might stop draining you.

So I ask you now:  Are you a fountain…or a drain?

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