Lessons on the Ground- Customer Service

(Series Intro) Last fall, we launched Jubilee Ventures in South Bend, IN. The hope was that our work on the ground would inform the way we direct the future of CovEnterprises, and vice versa. We wanted to create learning loops that allow us to not only champion best practices across the denomination but to apply innovative concepts and approaches on the ground.

All that sounds very exciting, but I’m learning that no matter how refined your concept, the work is always harder because it deals in real life (part of the reason we wanted to launch this anyway, to resist trafficking in ideas!).

To that end, one of the things I’m learning, even today!, is that your mission–no matter how compelling–is not a substitute for customer service! Perhaps this is a no brainer to some, but in my experience, there will be a temptation to let customer service slide down the list of priorities for your business because a) the mission takes so much more time or b) because of an unspoken (perhaps unconscious) belief that the mission counts as customer service. Not to say that your customers aren’t important but is it possible we expect them to ‘cut us some slack’ on the service side because we exist to ‘serve’ multiple constituencies?

But is critical that we resist that notion, and I would argue the mission depends on it. By extending some sense of redemptive, prophetic or justice oriented mission into the world of economics and commerce, we (in a sense) equate the credibility of our ’cause’ with the quality of the work we do. To delegitimize the work we do, or the service we provide customers, is to run the risk of hurting the public face of the cause for which we advocate.

On the flip side, by focusing on delivering high quality customer service, including communication, deliverables, and quality, we create a customer base that can more readily hear the parts of our mission that seeks to undermine the status quo.

So, in your enterprise, what safeguards do you have in place to ensure good customer service? Who is monitoring communication with customers, and following up to make sure that the job/service/material was produced and delivered as desired?

There are many ways to ‘present’ your story to the world, but customer relationships are a primary factor!

About Adam Gustine

Adam Gustine leads CovEnterprises for Love Mercy Do Justice and the Evangelical Covenant Church. He is also the founder of Jubilee Ventures; an economic incubator in South Bend, IN. He and his wife, Ann, live in South Bend with their three kids.

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