How Do You Know that You Are in the Right Place at the Right Time with the Right Stuff?

Well, this much is for certain. If you are going to work in a service organization, you need to have an ability to give and give and give. If that giving doesn't come naturally to you, it's not going to come. Period.

So how do you know if you are a giver? There are some telltale signs (Gross, p. 201).

1. Have you done any volunteer work? Being a blood donor counts. Being a Brownie troop leader, PTA officer, Get Out the Vote or Walk-a-Thon participant counts too. Givers volunteer.

2. Did you ever work professionally at a charity or volunteer to man a hot line? Takers tend to avoid these types of involvements.

3. Did you ever work professionally in a small company where you had to wear many hats? Givers will help out wherever they are needed and in whatever capacity.

4. Were you once a member of, or did you want a career in a "helping profession" like nursing, day care, or social work? Givers tend to gravitate to these careers.

5. Did you wait on tables? What percentage of your pay did you average in tips? What did you think of the way customers treated you? You won't perceive these customers as any better…believe me…no matter how much better these customers may appear to you. There is usually nothing that will change a taker's mind about working with the public. They do not take to the public well.

6. Did you serve in the military? The armed services teach people to treat other people with respect ("yes sir"; "yes ma'am") or at least deliver a convincing approximation of it.

7. Did you ever deal with the public before? What kind of experience was that? What was the worst and best day on the job? What would you have changed?

8. What sacrifices have you made in your life? If you have never sacrificed, you don't know much about giving. And if you have sacrificed but are bitter about it, you do not know much about giving either. Givers sacrifice easily and readily. It's a natural state of affairs for them.

9. Do you serve with joy? Givers do…all the time.

10. Do you find fulfillment and meaning in serving others? Takers do not.

A simple exercise that can be very telling is the following: Ask yourself the question: If you have 25 customers in a row who have similar questions about an issue, how will you maintain interest in each customer? Givers can come up with lots of different options; takers run out of them very quickly.

Another characteristic that divides the givers from the takers is their attitude towards their customers. Givers will automatically approach their customers while takers will do everything possible to avoid them.

Yet another characteristic that separates them is their focus while on the job. Givers will focus on providing service directly to their customers while takers focus mainly on the service process itself, i.e., the steps involved, etc. The result is that the taker limits his or her actual interaction time with the customer.

When one considers the fact that every interaction with a customer results in an impression that can win or lose a customer for life, who would you rather have working in your organization, a giver or a taker? Some of the most current information on what it takes to work successfully in a service job is very interesting. It is called "emotional intelligence" and has to do with author Daniel Goleman's belief in his book titled Emotional Intelligence that those who have what he calls "people powers" and not "credentials" like college degrees are the successful employees in service industries. People-powers is a term that refers to one's natural abilities to work with the public in a collaborative, personable and caring manner. A college degree does not guarantee this kind of competence, which is so necessary to exceptional customer service.

We're talking about behaviors like cordially greeting customers, smiling, using a customer's name, escorting customers to where they want to go, etc. Giving your customers personal, pleasing service requires a very special inclination for caring. Not everyone is suited to working with the public on a close intimate basis …remember the takers? To be good at customer service, you have to be part: Ambassador, Negotiator, Advocate, Accountant, Administrator, Confidant, Detective, Guardian of the Company Coffers (the money), Nursemaid, Troubleshooter, Peacemaker, Teacher, Technocrat (skilled at using those computer data bases), Salesperson, and Gracious Host (Karr and Blohowiak, p.195).

Here is a little quiz you should take to see if you are strong enough to be a great person in a customer service oriented job (Gittomer, p. 215-216).