Serving People Well Isn’t Just Right . . . It’s Also Good Business

I believe serving people well is the right thing to do. As a follower of Jesus, I’m committed to serving people in imitation of my Lord, who both modeled and taught servant leadership (for example, Mark 10:35-45). I’m guided by the teaching of the Apostle Paul, who urged us to care first for “the interests of others” because Christ humbled himself in becoming human and dying on the cross (Phil 2:1-8). So, I believe we should serve others because it’s right.

But it’s also good business. And it’s just plain smart. You know this if you have been served well in a business setting. You know how good service fosters gratitude, goodwill, and loyalty. The business that serves you well will tend to get your business again and again and again. By contrast, when you receive poor service, you will be inclined to take your business elsewhere.

ArcLight theater in Pasadena
ArcLight theater in Pasadena

Consider, for example, the case of ArcLight Cinemas. This company owns a number of movie theaters in Southern California. They promise to provide a superior movie-going experience, focusing on serving their customers. I have been impressed by my visits to the ArcLight theater in Pasadena. I can reserve my seats online. The staff is friendly and helpful. The popcorn is fresh. The seats are comfortable and spacious. Sight and sound is excellent. Though ArcLight is not the cheapest option in my city, it provides excellent value.

So, a year ago I chose to become an ArcLight member. For $15, I received several discounts and benefits. Happy with the membership program, I used the ArcLight website to make sure my membership would be renewed each year automatically.

But, yesterday I received an email from ArcLight informing me that my membership had expired. I knew this couldn’t be right. After spending some frustrating minutes on the website, I called the service line. When nobody answered, I finally left my name, number, and a brief message explaining my problem. Honestly, I was bugged about all of this hassle. I wondered if I would ever get a call back from ArcLight.

The call came in about ten minutes. A polite man explained that he had looked into my account and identified the problem. He took the liberty of renewing my membership without charge. He apologized for the inconvenience and wished me a happy new year.

I felt surprisingly pleased. And it wasn’t really about saving $15. No, was enjoying the feeling of being well served, of feeling as if I mattered. Also, I was impressed by ArcLight’s obvious commitment to customer service. The company had clearly empowered the person on the phone to serve me well, even if that meant giving me a free membership for a year. That guy just cost his company $15. And with that money he purchased my gratitude, goodwill, and loyalty.

Service like this seems harder and harder to come by these days. Yet, if businesses and churches and schools and other institutions make an effort to serve people well, they will benefit in addition to those they serve. And if we serve others out of loyalty to Jesus Christ, then he will be honored by our efforts. Now that’s a win-win-win, if I ever saw one.

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