Previously on The Porch, we talked about the importance of three key values: integrity, quality, and service. We discussed in some detail the definition and important attributes of someone living a life of integrity. We also looked at its importance in business. Today, we look at the second of these values – Service. We will explore what it means as an individual and what it means to our business. We will look at service from an outside perspective and inside. I hope that at the end, you’ll be re-motivated to ensure that service is important and a value that you will adopt in both your work and private life.
Service is simply defines as the action of helping someone. There are three key elements of this definition:
- Action – service is not a passive activity, it is active. It is something we do, not think about or consider.
- Helping – service is offering a favor, kindness, or something else that makes a difference to that person.
- Someone – service is all about others, not self.
So, when we look at service in terms of this definition, it is something we do for others that makes a difference to them. It is not at all about us.
“He thought how sad it was to be an Animal who had never had a bunch of violets picked for him.” ― A.A. Milne
What are the key attributes of an individual that has adopted the value of service in his/her life? You might get a better idea of service from the quotes listed below. To me, service has five key elements:
- Meeting the needs of others – Service is important to not only our customers outside the company, but our customers on the inside. We all have internal customers – individuals or groups that rely upon what we do. Providing excellent service in every aspect of our job makes a difference to those needing our products and to those needing our best work sent to them. Being service-minded means that we always want to deliver what we say we’ll deliver on the schedule promised. A strong focus on service helps establish our credibility and integrity as both a company and us as individuals.
- Service benefits others, as well as, our company – When we deliver as promised, many benefit. Certainly, our customers benefit. Their systems make assumptions on service risk and they build safety stocks of critical medical products based on their confidence in us. When we fail to deliver, it costs them money PLUS we could jeopardize the health or safety of our ultimate patients. So, there is a significant benefit externally when we provide excellent service. We also enhance our reputation as a company that can be relied upon in the future.
- True service has no boundaries – When we serve others, we do so without artificial boundaries or biases. We should serve others simply because we want to make a difference to them. When we serve those unable to help themselves, we meet their needs PLUS we help give them hope. I have a soft spot in my heart for our elderly. It breaks my heart when our older adults spend their days, weeks, and months in care homes without ever having visitors or others to simply spend time with them. Doing something special for someone that can never pay you back, makes a difference to them… and us.
- Service to others is a differentiator – In our businesses, being the company providing the best service often is the deciding factor for who gets the business. Likewise, being the person that seeks to serve others is often the key factor in building relationships. It is not every person that lives their lives with a bias toward serving others first. When you seek first to meet others’ needs, your own are often met in ways you never could have expected.
- Service has a price; lack of service has a greater price – Yes, it does require a financial cost to have the best service. But, the payback is often many times greater than the investment for our business. Likewise, the price for service to others is often our own sacrifice. However, when we give to others, the payback is usually much greater than anything we could expect. Similarly, the lack of service or lack of desire to serve can leave a company struggling or an individual absorbed in his/her self-pity or aloneness.
How does this make a difference to us? Certainly, service can be a differentiator to our customers. If everything else is equal, they tend to go with the supplier that offers the best service. Service to other functions within the company is important to help them do their job well and on time. Finally, being an individual that strives to serve others and improve the lives of those around us, can make a difference in that person’s life AND it can change the way we view the world. I have heard it said and experienced it for myself that when I am feeling the lowest, seeking to intentionally serve someone else can change my whole perspective from the focus on my problems to meeting their needs. And, nothing can encourage us more when we are at that low point than having someone else pull us up.
The Golden Rule, do to others as you would want them to do to you, still is true today and it applies well to our need and desire to serve others well.
Let’s have a terrific and productive day!
Here are a few quotes on service that might be of interest to you:
- “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi
- “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams
- “You need an attitude of service. You’re not just serving yourself. You help others to grow up and you grow with them.” – David Green
- “We are all here to be a service to those who can’t be a service to themselves. We can give people hope and more reasons for being human.” – Dionne Warwick
- “A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits. They will be embarrassingly large.” – Henry Ford
- “For anything worth having one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice – no paper currency, no promises to pay, but the gold of real service.” – John Burroughs
- “The most important service to others is service to those who are not like yourself.” – J. Irwin Miller
- “Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.” – Og Mandino
- “The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being.” – Lee Iacocca
- “Earn your success based on service to others, not at the expense of others.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.