“I’m a soldier of service,” he said proudly when I thanked him for helping me locate an item in the Home Depot. I smiled and asked him what that meant. “It means I am here in service of my customers,” he replied. “My job is to quickly get them whatever they need.” I again thanked him and walked to the cash register recalling my soldiering days.
I was not a soldier; I was a warrior. I served in combat as the commander of an Army reconnaissance ranger unit. Think of Army Rangers as sort of the Army version of the Navy Seals. I did a few joint operations with the Seals. Ordinary soldiers do their assigned duty. They carry out orders and, in a manner of speaking, “quickly get whatever is requested.” Warriors, while respecting the chain of command, go beyond routine duty to do whatever it takes to give their absolute best. They are mission-focused, not job-focused.
As soldiers came to end of tour of duty overseas they used the word “short” a lot. When someone asked, “How you doing?” the answer “I’m short” meant you were getting close to DEROS (date eligible for return from overseas…a.k.a., go home!). Warriors never spoke of being short. While they felt the pain of lost colleague and the loneliness of being away from loved ones, their focus was on the next challenge and the thrill of the next victory. Warriors were not bloodthirsty licensed killers; they were there for love of country, the allegiance to the unit, and the sheer zeal of achievement.
We have plenty of soldiers of service today–people who proudly do what the customer requests. We need warriors of service. Warriors of service bring joy and delight, not just help and assistance. Warriors deliver unexpected surprise, not just plain old good service. They think outside the expectation; they boldly explore the untrodden terrain of service magic.
Warriors of service camouflage any unavoidable unpleasantries in the customer’s path so the best of service shines bright. Wait is carefully managed when it cannot be shortened; hassle is decorated with personality when necessary rules dictate some modicum of bureaucracy. Customers do not remember service providers that simply meet their needs—even with speed and warmth. Our memory bank today only records the best and brightest experiences. And, if those memories are of the unique and special, we play them back for others over the backyard cyber fence!
Photo Credit: Flickr via Luigi Mancini