Why Customer Service Is My New Religion

meditationI have become convinced that customer service is largely a spiritual practice. It’s feeling based, with a prime objective to serve others, and it helps you practice the most challenging aspects of being human.

I had a customer today who thought he was receiving voicemails for the past 4 months, but wasn’t. Long story short, he canceled his account, turned it back on, and expected everything to magically go back to how it was. I tried to point out his mistake on my first attempt. I explained the faults of the customer, the realities of the system, and the righteousness of my ego. And then, he got really mad, and something clicked.

I realized that a lot of my interactions with customers are reactionary and ego-based in their basic formulation. I’m constantly trying to defend myself, to protect my little identity and ego from potential annihilation and humiliation by some random human being across this fabric of the internet. But why? Because I always have to be right, and I hate to be wrong.

I think it’s an affliction that a lot of us deal with. Not because we like to, but because some little part of ourselves wants to feel entitled and important. This is me, that is you, there is a separation. But then you start to realize that the separation is well…separate.

So I apologized profusely to this guy, I told him I was wrong, that I screwed up, and it felt really, really good. It was the ultimate act of surrender, to finally give up resistance and stop fighting the good fight, because there really is no fight to begin with.

There are no barriers between customer and company, they are all illusions that we subscribe to. I think there’s much spiritual wisdom to behold in customer service, including:

  • The art of allowing. It takes a lot to let people be who they are. Some customers scream and yell, and others just don’t understand. What better tool to learn to carve patience and humility with humanity as a whole when you are confronted with such a diverse array of beings every day?
  • Forgiveness. It’s one thing to blame a problem on a customer, and quite another to accept blame and then forgive yourself and the situation as a whole. Not everything goes as you planned.
  • Going with the flow. People are not computers, so much as we try to interface with each other through these devices. We tend to forget that the other person on the other end, that might be pointing fingers, is going through the same stuff that you are.
  • Identifying the ego. Next time you get in a confrontation, watch what arises inside. A wall starts to be built, brick by brick. Before long, you have a castle built, and you are hurling insults from the top of your wall at a customer. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just part of the human experience. But realize it for what it is, the human drama.
  • Mind chatter. Next time you have an upset customer on the phone, observe your mind. Is it already starting to think, forming defenses and counter-opinions? Ready to defend its position? What happens if you just stop the thinking, and listen to what the other person is saying?

There’s not many occupations in business that provide such a spiritual growth platform as customer service. Or perhaps there is, and it’s all a matter of the perspective you provide. So, how do you turn your routine job into a spiritual practice?


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