I am grateful that Chip Bell shared a book (The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service) with the world that fits in well with these harried first few weeks of school (for those of us in the U.S. south, at least!). In addition to the start of school, I have also been juggling a procurement at work, a freelance editing project, a father-in-law with health challenges, and various demands of life that all seem to be screaming, “If you haven’t noticed, summer is over!!” This book is readable, piercing in its intensity, and positive.
As I was considering incidents in my life that exemplified the service Chip highlights, I kept going back to the pharmacy staff at the Publix used by my in-laws. Due to a stroke and some other complications, my father-in-law is on a lot of medications. My mother-in-law has her share of prescriptions, too. They are “regulars” at that pharmacy. One day, my father-in-law had already been driven to Publix to pick up the latest refills (he no longer drives), only to discover upon getting home that one needed medication was not there. When my mother-in-law called to ask about it, they noted that it was now ready. “But I can’t get to Publix now,” she shared (she is blind and does not drive either). A staff person from Publix delivered the medication to their home.
But I witnessed something else at a different Publix today (I spend a lot of time at Publix!) that I just have to share. It may be a stretch to work it in to a blog about innovative service but let’s see if there’s a way.
A parent was berating her son. I didn’t look closely but I think the child was somewhere between 15 and 20. Apparently she had been trying to call him via cell phone in a different section of the store and he had not answered quickly enough. She was being so angry and loud that I honestly was wondering if I was on one of those shows like “What Would You Do?” that was assessing if people would step in and intervene if a child was being verbally abused. The line I remember most was:
“You are about as ignorant as can be.”
Now, I have my own “confrontation in Publix” story that doesn’t put me in a nice light at all. It is such a traumatic story that it hasn’t yet seen the light of day (and it happened when my high school freshman was in kindergarten). I also know that parenting is stressful and I do not walk in this lady’s shoes. All I know is being treated like that (and whatever happens at home out of public earshot) isn’t the kind of stepping stone that a human being needs to grow into someone who provides “innovative service.”
In his chapter called “The Fly-Fishing Principle,” Chip Bell quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
My heart still hurts vicariously for the kid who tonight was told “you’re as ignorant as can be.” As a parent, as a member of teams of various kinds, as someone who has supervised people, I am reminded that respect starts early. Before innovative service shows up at the office or on the showroom floor, some parent, babysitter, or caring adult takes the time to demonstrate it long before ROI is even a consideration. Thank you, Chip Bell, for a book that reminds us just how far respect can go if we incubate it lovingly in the first place.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.