At the end of the day, the service really is for someone to feel cared for. That's it. We can talk about service steps, touch points and exceeding expectations until we're exhausted, but if your customers don't feel truly cared for (or their problem), genuine service really hasn't happened. To make this point clearer, I suggest that ministry be special, there must be three things: memorable. Valuable. Relevant. The customer should remember it, find it valuable, and respond to the specific question.
My friend went on a business trip to Minneapolis and stayed at the Sofitel Hotel. His birthday took place during this trip, and while customers remembered and wished him a happy birthday, some of his family members were not home. Suffice to say he was a little depressed that night. At dinner, the server noticed his behavior and asked if he was okay. He decided to share his story, and she immediately wished him a happy birthday. The server also walked in and told all her colleagues at the restaurant and across the hotel about his birthday. Several employees put money together and went to the hotel gift shop to buy a birthday card, and everyone signed it. They handed him the signed card before dinner was over. Unforgettable. Valuable. Relevant.
Company rental car
While traveling to Denver, Colorado, I met an example of a textbook with someone acting as he owns it. He is a bus driver for a company rental car at Denver International Airport. When I exited the main airline's terminal and boarded the company bus, he eagerly awaited the oncoming passengers and said, "Welcome to Denver!" One passenger had a child and a stroller, so he reminded her before driving to make sure the stroller wheels were locked.
He then asked if this was any first trip to Denver. He followed, announcing the weather for that evening and the day after. When I say that he provided the weather forecast, I do not mean only the high and low temperatures. The driver switched to full TV meteorologist mode and gave wind conditions, precipitation, chance of snow, etc. He then asked if anyone was planning to go skiing while in town. One man answered in the affirmative, and then he told him his phone number (and a specific phone extension) for "hot conditions on the road". Unforgettable. Valuable. Relevant.
Give it anyway
Sometimes you will serve wholeheartedly and will not receive a "thank you". Give anyway. Not only can they thank you, but in the middle of your service, they can complain about something else. Give anyway. As difficult as it may sometimes seem, your true ministry to others should not depend on whether they say thank you or not. Of course, we are all people and feelings, so it would be nice to appreciate a little. However, do not make service delivery dependent on other people's gratitude. Give anyway.
Often people ask me about the first thing they should do to build a team of people who provide engaging services. The first thing I tell them is to make the service the most important team. It cannot be the equivalent of any other goal, and it certainly cannot be on the active to-do list (ie the service will be the focus of this year). Every teamwork must be anchored. Basically, everyone should be able to look at ANY of your team members and see that excellent service is how the team measures success. In addition, any new employee should be able to say right from the interview that "This team is different from any other team I've participated in."
The impeccable power of word, gesture, or action can have a lasting impact that goes beyond the mission of your business. In order for your customers to feel deeply cared for, your team must take great care of the service. So go ahead and create memorable, valuable and relevant experiences for as many people as possible. Your customers will appreciate it and you will create a competitive advantage that is difficult to imitate, match or beat.