Service standards keep rising. As competitors render better and better service, customers become more demanding. Their expectations grow. When every company's service is shoddy, doing a few things well can earn you a reputation as the customer's savior. But when a competitor emerges from the pack as a service leader, you have to do a lot of things right. Suddenly achieving service leadership costs more and takes longer. It may even be impossible if the competition has too much of a head start. The longer you wait, the harder it is to produce outstanding service.
Frequently, we busily search for group service projects, which are surely needed and commendable, when quiet, personal service is also urgently needed. Sometimes the completing of an occasional group service project ironically salves our consciences when, in fact, we are constantly surrounded by a multitude of opportunities for individual service. In serving, as in true worship, we need to do some things together and some things personally. Our spiritual symmetry is our own responsibility, and balance is so important.
With support jobs moving to China and India, it's not surprising that English-speaking countries' top frustration revolves around the difficulty of understanding customer service representatives. However, even if the level of customer service is exceptional, the extent to which poorly-understood accents trump quality of service speaks to English-speaking customers' growing intolerance of non-native speech, more so than in other countries.
We talk about social service, service to the people, service to humanity, service to others who are far away, helping to bring peace to the world - but often we forget that it is the very people around us that we must live for first of all. If you cannot serve your wife or husband or child or parent - how are you going to serve society? If you cannot make your own child happy, how do you expect to be able to make anyone else happy? If all our friends in the peace movement or of service communities of any kind do not love and help each other, whom can we love and help?
We can be of so much service to others in many thou-shalt ways. Of course, the problem is that rendering such service takes time, and we are all so busy. Some situations may call for service that somehow seems to be beneath us. Besides, we have other things to do. The thou shalts are so convenient to put off. Who will notice the procrastination anyway? After all, we are not robbing a bank. Or are there forms of withholding that constitute stealing?
When I hear the president of the United States in a great little rhetorical flourish talk about the leavening hand of the government, everybody knows that leavening hand is attached to the long arm of the Internal Revenue Service. And no one mistakes the Internal Revenue Service with something called liberty.