Friday, September 26, 2008

Where Theory Meets Practice

I recently wrote about how handling difficult customers can provide the skills to improve an individual’s personal relationships. Ironically, the very moment I was drafting my post, key members of our staff at Bud’s Warehouse were being yelled at by an angry customer. (So much for my comments that we very rarely have to deal with angry customers.) The experience became a God-given teaching moment for the staff where theory meets practice. Indeed, one of the top benefits of a work-based job-training program is the on-the-job-experience from real life situations. We don’t just teach skills…we live them.

The next morning we spent our 30 minute teaching time reviewing our talk from the previous week on how to handle an angry customer. We identified points where we blew it. We commiserated about how ridiculous and angry this particular person was. We celebrated that we resolved the customer’s problem and earned an additional large sale from the person. We talked about ways to avoid the problem in the future. And we prayed for help in handling conflicts in the future at home and at work.

One issue that came up from our discussion is how difficult it is to be “disrespected” by someone else. Individuals rebuilding lives from homelessness, prison or addiction have experienced many broken and destructive relationships. These experiences have hard-wired an automatic response to disrespect that often doesn’t help resolve conflict situations. We reminded each other that out top customer service principle is to serve each person walking through the door at Bud’s as if they were Jesus Christ, even if they don’t deserve it. (Colossians 3:23-24) We serve others because God served us. We love others because God loved us.

It’s just another day in the life of a faith venture, a business as ministry on behalf of disadvantaged communities.

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