Can the art of customer service teach us anything about discipleship?

This week I have started listening to a Podcast from the Global Leadership Summit.

Today’s chat was about exceptional customer service, as I listened I wondered how the points raised could help us as we explore how we develop discipling relationships.

The speaker was Chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel group, Horst Schulze. He spoke of his passion for the hotel business from a very young age.

There was one person in his early years that really stood out, he was someone who provided exceptional service. He had incredible attention to detail and aimed to be exceptional in all that he did. He came to work to be excellent in his profession, he wanted to be excellent at caring for the people around him. In essence, loving his neighbour.

Horst says that the goal of good customer service is about creating loyal customers. To get loyal customers you need to develop trust, by giving them what they want and to be defect-free. They want it in a timely manner, they don’t want to have to wait too long and you want the people who give it to you to be nice to you and pay attention to you. Then when you are done you want to farewell them well.

So what does this have to do with discipleship I hear you say? For me, I think that God wants loyal people, not just satisfied people, but people who will go the journey with God.

When I was listening to Horst talk about the product being defect-free, I was thinking about how we are called to the truth. God calls us to speak the truth, but more than that people trust people who are authentic and real. You know what you are getting with them. We may not be defect free, but I would suggest that people require more that they know what they are getting.

So timeliness – for me this is about respect. You produce your “product” in good time because you respect your customer. Respecting who people are, respecting their time, respecting what they have to offer is one of the core commitments of our faith – love your neighbour as yourself.

For me being the people who provide a product being nice to you, to care for you and pay attention to you is the outworkings of what it means to love your neighbour. We are called to do this not because it is a nice thing to do but because we are called to reflect our Creator and that is what our Creator does, not just to the good or God’s special chosen ones but to all.

Imagine if we as churches took on board that service starts the instant people have contact with you. What if we were to look at the guest, recognise them, welcome them and say I am here for you, I am delighted you are here and you matter. This is not just the task of the welcomers but every single one of us. Each of us will do it differently but this is the call of being followers of Jesus because this is what Jesus did.

Horst talks about the importance of an individual response, to see people and know them. This for me is key, critical even to sharing the Good News of Jesus, for each person how they connect with that Good News will be different. We need to take the time to listen to them and get to know them, so we are able to share what is helpful, not just ramble on!

Here’s where the difference comes, we are not doing this because we are trying to sell a product, or get someone to join our programme. We are doing this because God has seen us, loved us, knows us. We are loyal customers because what God offers – the world does not. Love, value, meaning, purpose is life-transforming and the most valuable thing in the whole world, worth giving up everything in life for. This for me inspires my most excellent work.

If you haven’t experienced that yet, I pray for you today right now. May God blow your mind about how amazing life can be when you are embraced and held, and you lean into that love of God.

If you want to have a listen here’s where you can check out his session.

Episode 10 Horst Schulze Chairman and CEO Capella Hotel Group

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Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.

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