Customer service comes from the heart, and so does spirituality. They have a symbiotic relationship that can offer a ‘wow’ customer experience. The main customer expectation is a memorable experience that is actualised through an organisation’s values as expressed by that business’s representatives. These values, in part, determine a customer’s loyalty. Customers are not merely looking for purchases anymore; they want memorable buying experiences, whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer. This can be achieved through spirituality when dealing with customers. Spirituality unblocks any reservations a customer may have towards products, services, or businesses. It harvests the good in everybody when dealing with each other. Providing honest information will be the future order of business to attract a discerning and well-informed customer. This book is written to bring both aspects together– spirituality and customer service – by broadening the individual’s sense of identity to reflect business values with professionalism.
It is vital to note that the Information Age has made the customer a king. Just as the Industrial Revolution brought about the Industrial Age, the Digital Revolution brought the Information Age. During the Industrial Age businesses decided what kinds of products customers should have, and they controlled information and supply flow of these products. They moved their products through a network of distributors and retailers who became the cornerstone of all interactions with customers. Customers depended on them for the availability of the products and the information about them. In the Information Age customers have direct access, with the click of a button, to the best products in the world and information about them. Businesses, therefore, are forced to move from a sales cycle to a buying cycle, placing the customer in a position as king. The Information Age made the marketplace truly global, and most competition became fierce, with access to customers and businesses across the globe, and in this way relationships decide the survival of a business. In the past customers enquired about a company’s products by asking, ‘Is the product useful?’; ‘Is the product desirable?’; ‘Is the product usable?’ Today, customers enquire about company values by asking, ‘Is the company easy to deal with?’; ‘Is the company enjoyable to deal with?’; ‘Does the company meet needs?’
The spiritual self is the core of an individual with a unique cluster of qualities that cannot be replicated in another person. The cluster is unique because it is a combination of inborn qualities, genetic qualities, and culturally learned qualities. This implies that we cannot apply one common method of customer service to everyone. The English word ‘spirit’ is from the Latin spiritus, meaning ‘breath’. When we breathe, we come alive. Usually with life comes human consciousness. Human anatomy is tied to human consciousness; therefore, as our physical breathing patterns change, so do our thought patterns, and vice versa.
Dr Martin Kramar, a psychologist, member of the American Psychological Association, and member of British Psychological Society, said,
We learn to voluntarily control our autonomic nervous system via sympathetic (anxiety and stress-fight/flight response to situation) and parasympathetic (relaxation / composure to situation) activation. The right hemisphere of the human brain which is responsible for relaxation is activated by [the] parasympathetic nervous system. The left hemisphere which is responsible for reasoning is activated by the sympathetic nervous system. Balance between the right and a left hemisphere is needed to attain psycho-physiological equilibrium concerning sensitivity and reasoning for better harmony.
Therefore, by being conscious of our breathing, we can influence our thoughts and feelings. This brings our spiritual self into play. For example, we can achieve awareness of our breathing through meditation, reading, any form of exercise, yoga, prayer, and so on to get in touch with our spiritual selves. In this book we are not concerned with the science of this; instead, we are concerned with the effects.
Therefore, in essence, spirituality is affirmed meaningful activities that lead to a reformed self to attain perfection. Affirmed meaningful activities are those things we do within ourselves to recognise our talents, influence our thoughts and feelings, monitor our breathing, be conscious of our physical selves through self-control to strike a balance, and so on. We do them outside ourselves to nurture our talents through training and education, to meditate, to positively modify behaviour, and to care for our health through meaningful recreational activities. These will lead to fulfilment, and one can strive for perfection.
Perfection is the translation of absolute ideas to reality. An absolute idea is the blueprint in our minds for action. For example, excellence and consistency are two pure potential ‘absolute ideas’ as ideal blueprints in our minds that await action. Absolute ideas can be converted to everyday living experiences. Excellence and consistency can be converted by frontline professionals to customers, who are king.
There is a universe within us that we perceive as truth. Similarly, there is a universe outside us that we perceive as fact and therefore also as truth. The individual ‘truth’ of internal perceptions – as much as the truth of external facts of both the frontline professional and the customer – meet to create the augmented customer experience. The challenge for a frontline professional is to understand the internal truths and external facts of the customer that defines his or her experience. The professional should try to align them for a positive interaction and a meaningful experience. For example, inventions come from a blueprint in the mind, which is ‘truth’ before it is transformed into reality.
We motivate employees to reflect on their core to transmit their values in a deep relationship with the values of the organization to bring in a genuine commitment.