For the past couple of years, I have attended a men’s bible study program called That Man Is You (TMIY) sponsored by our parish, the Church of the Holy Spirit. We get an early start on Saturdays with the meetings beginning at 6:15 a.m.

Yes … it is early, but we are done before 8 a.m., which means we have the rest of the day to spend with our families.

After missing a couple Saturday meetings because of work travel, it was good to be back this past weekend. I missed seeing the guys. We also have a cooking team that prepares a terrific breakfast like eggs, bacon, carne guisada, and hot flour tortillas.

Since we started the hot breakfast, our donations have increased significantly!

Service More Than Expected

At the recent TMIY meeting, a friend (Ray) approached me and said: “We’ve missed you!”

He also said he had read the recent newsletter and was aware that I was on business travel. Ray reminded me that I had recently written about customer service, and he agreed that successful companies are committed to making the customer feel special.

Ray is retired now, but he owned a CPA firm for many years. Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s smart to be all ears when successful people share advice and practices that have worked for them.

Ray said, “In my business, my approach was to service more than expected.”

To make things work for me, I made the word “service” a verb. In other words, the focus here is on being active and doing whatever possible to provide value to the customer.

It also means going beyond expectations. There are so many businesses today that are similar or homogeneous, which means that differentiation matters. For example, there are countless CPA firms, but Ray focused on service to make his organization unique in the industry.

Making it Work

The best method for me to learn from the excellent advice I receive is to look for ways to apply it, so here are ways I can do that in my areas of work:

• Instead of creating a traditional PowerPoint presentation for my students, I can lead the class in a seminar where we dive deep into a topic. By taking this approach, I get away from the lecture or directive style and encourage students to share their thoughts and ideas.

• When working on a project for a client, I spend more time learning what is important to them. It’s easy to focus only on the work to be done, but service more than expected requires I learn what is most valuable to my clients.

My discussion with Ray reminded me that we often overlook what really matters to the people who we service. Today, the tendency is to use data analytics and artificial intelligence to get a step ahead of the competition.

I believe these technologies are terrific, and they should be used.

However, we should remember that our customers want to be appreciated and respected, and oftentimes a warm smile and a caring attitude are far more effective than anything else.