Martin Luther King, Jr. once said,
Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t need to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t even need to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you are serving others, then you are in the love business. To love means ‘to care deeply for’, and every customer, on some level, wants to be cared for. Whether it’s in an airport, hospital, hotel, nursing home, spa, train or restaurant, customers want to know that whoever happens to be serving them cares about their well-being. Yes, hotel guests appreciate luxurious room accommodations, but what they are really paying for is assurance that the staff will care enough to be attentive and look for ways to create exceptional memories for them. Yes, hospital and long-term care patients expect the medical team to help them feel better but, deep down, they also want to know that you will not treat them as just another patient in their already-busy day. People want…no…people yearn and crave to be loved. They need it.
The kind word you say to the customers, may be the only kind word they have heard all day…or all week…or all month. You don’t know what their personal circumstances are. The man you are serving could have only a few weeks to live and he now finds himself being served by you. A woman could be having the worst year of her life for various reasons, and she now finds herself in your spa, your restaurant, your airline, or your bus. Your genuine smile may be the catalyst to turn her day completely around. In the end, money can buy material possessions, but memories and how we feel are all we have.
Those who truly understand what it means to infuse love into service do not classify their customers according to status. In other words, they don’t serve VIP’s “better” than everyone else. On the contrary, they serve everyone like they are VIP’s. Flight attendants who understand this concept shun the idea that those flying in first class should be treated nicer. No, these professionals treat every passenger as if they are in first-class. First-class is not a section on an airplane; it is a mentality towards how you serve people.
I was recently on a Delta flight, and experienced my first ever, flight within a flight experience. That is the only way I can describe the service that I received. Scott, the flight attendant, made every passenger in his assigned section of the plane feel incredibly valued and appreciated. Here’s what Scott did:
- He proactively approached passengers to greet them as they entered his section (which I believe were rows 21 – 30).
- He welcomed them and asked, “Where are you sitting today?”
- He escorted the passengers to their seats, then offered to assist with putting their luggage in the overhead compartment.
- He wished each person an enjoyable flight.
Once I got situated in my seat, Scott noticed that I had pulled out a Delta drink coupon to redeem for a complimentary alcoholic beverage. He asked if this was my last flight of the day. When I told him that I actually had one more flight to catch, he told me, “Keep the coupon to use on your next flight today. Your drink on this flight is on me. I would like to make your entire flight experience with us today a memorable one.” Nice.
And it gets better…
When he was preparing to serve beverages, he approached each passenger in his section and said, “We have some complimentary napkins for you.” When I ordered the red wine, he said, “Excellent choice! We have our finest red wine for you from our cellar that has been aged just right.” It was obvious to me that Scott took pride in ensuring that every passenger in his section had a memorable experience. He is the embodiment of working like you own it. Scott knows that he is in the love business.
Jessica the server
I recently visited the Grand Hotel Stockholm and the entire staff was very hospitable. They exuded professionalism and, more importantly, a genuine interest in my well-being while in their city. One evening, I went to one of the hotel’s restaurants for dinner and was privileged to meet one of the finest servers in the world. Not only was she flawless with each of the various touchpoints, but she obviously loved her job. Jessica took great pride in honing her craft. She was proud of being a server. Actually, she loved being a server. Jessica didn’t just greet me…she welcomed me into her “home”. She didn’t just take my food and drink order…she shared her favorite menu items. When the food was delivered to the table, she did not just say, “enjoy your meal”, she took a moment to explain everything on the plate. Jessica even gave a brief story about the ingredients, and where they came from (for each dish). The vegetables came from this place… the fish came from that place. As a diner, I felt an intimate connection with the food I was enjoying because she painted such a wonderful picture! Jessica knows that she is in the love business.
Let love manifest itself in how you speak, act and serve others. Your customers can, and will, feel it. They may not always tell you, but trust me, they appreciate it. In fact, the very act of genuinely serving IS love.
One of the best parts about being in the love business is its universal appeal. Everyone understands it on some level, and there is powerful karma associated with giving love. It always seems to find its way back to you. An ancient Chinese proverb notes, “a little bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses”. In this article’s context, think of the roses as the service that you provide to others. And think of the fragrance as the inner peace and outer fulfillment that you have as a result of serving others. Ladies and gentlemen, we are in the love business.