I recently came across a list of attributes possessed by volunteers—whether candy stripers at a local hospital, political activists along the campaign trail or parents donating their time at their children’s elementary school.
The list included:
- Passion: Authentic energy and enthusiasm in support of a cause
- Commitment: The act of pledging or engaging oneself to a cause
- Positive attitude: Optimism in the pursuit of desirable outcomes, regardless of circumstances
It occurred to me that the qualities attributed to an effective volunteer also describe a successful frontline employee in the service industry.
Customer service transactions benefit from employees who have a genuine passion to serve others, commit to placing the needs of customers ahead of their own, and display a positive attitude—even when facing long lines or demanding customers.
The fact that the qualities of volunteers and frontline service providers are similar is not surprising since one of the truths of exceptional customer service is that it is always voluntary. Employees choose to smile, make eye contact, add energy to their voice, anticipate needs, pay attention to detail, display a sense of urgency, follow-up or any number of other behaviors that convey exceptional customer service.
And because exceptional customer service is voluntary, you and I (as customers) seldom receive it. Employees may be required to answer phones, secure valid methods of payment or perform numerous other job functions but they cannot be ordered to display passion, commitment or a positive attitude—these are personal choices.
Oftentimes service industry employers post “Help Wanted” signs to attract job applicants. Perhaps they should post “Volunteers Needed” signs instead?
What do you think?