The best service is the kind somebody wants to give. Not only is it the best kind of service to receive, but it’s the most gratifying to give. What does this “freely given service” look like?
Since, by definition, you can’t force the feeling of freedom, the question of how to actually make this happen put us in a bit of a conundrum doesn’t it?
Especially since service professionals tend to feel the opposite of freedom. Even if they know they’ve freely chosen their role and company, the daily demands of the job can feel like an endless string of obligations to be polite and accommodating to abusive customers.
This lack of perceived agency and freedom can taint the value that even the most well-intentioned professionals can bring. So how can you or your team truly feel like the service they’re giving is coming from an authentic, voluntary place?
Encourage Other Kinds of Service
At one service-based company I worked at had a tradition of inviting employees to occasionally volunteer their free time at a homeless shelter. This brought them greater joy in the service-oriented work they did with the company. Service in these new, wholesome, selfless contexts connects people to the pure value of freely given service and may inspire questions of, “Why can’t I bring this same level of fulfillment to my work?”
Fascinating studies have shown that even extremely busy people will begin to feel like they have more time available to them when they donate some of it to volunteer work. Isn’t that amazing? Just bringing a mentality of well-intentioned free will to a few hours of their week made them feel like their entire week had more hours in it (and that involved consuming more hours of it).
Give Your People Autonomy
Case study after case study has revealed that trusting your frontline service team to go beyond service protocols and creatively find ways to delight customers yields better service and a more inspired team. This allows you to be extremely agile in both relationship building and relationship recovery when something inevitably goes wrong.
Makes sense right? If the team knows they’re trusted to make the right decisions towards your company’s vision they will do so joyfully. Respect someone’s intelligence and they will work to serve those more inspiring expectations of them (authentically serving your customers in the process).
The sense of being trapped or forced is just a conceptual thought - it’s the mind protecting you from a challenging situation that you don’t know how to change (“All this discomfort I’m feeling isn’t my responsibility because I’ve been forced into this situation”). Simple mindful practices can allow you and your team to go beyond these reactive thoughts and operate from a more deeply felt sense of calm and capability. It’ll feel like you’re meeting demanding clients, tech failures, and other mishaps with greater freedom because you’ll see how much power you have to still show up as the caring, creative person you want to be.
About The Author
Stefan Ravalli (LinkedIn profile here) is a meditation and mindful service teacher. His education project Serve Conscious seeks to give people and businesses the tools to transform their service roles to mindful ones and make a service a medium for growth, power and transformation.