I remember experiencing great customer service at the grand opening of a high-end department store about twenty years ago. An established chain, it was making its first appearance in our area. The atmosphere was pleasant and non-rushed, with piano music played by a pianist in a tuxedo. You did not have to look far to get assistance from knowledgeable, well-attired salespeople ready to go the extra mile to answer a question or find a particular item. In fact, often a salesperson would become your personal assistant, returning clothes to the floor and finding the correct size, so you didn't have to leave the dressing room. The slogan that was prominently displayed throughout the establishment read, "The only difference between stores is the way they treat their customers."
I'm sorry to report that this level of customer service is no longer present in this department store which has become very much like its numerous counterparts in malls. (That slogan is also no longer displayed!) Helping customers is not something that seems to be high on anyone's priority list. Even salespeople who sell you a computer, electronic equipment, or an expensive appliance are quick to promise all the benefits available should there be a problem. But when a problem arises, the customer discovers that the promises were exaggerated or the company has changed its policy since the item was purchased.
What makes the process more frustrating is that when you call customer service, there are very pleasant people giving very unsatisfactory answers. They gently and calmly guide the unhappy customer to the position of accepting "the way it is," -- leaving the problem unresolved. They will be the first to admit that they don't make the policies; they just have to live by them. It feels cruel and mean to unload on them, yet they are the face and voice of the company they represent. If you are directed to a customer service "satisfaction" survey after the call, the survey only deals with the attitude and helpfulness of the person with whom you just talked. So, there isn't any satisfaction with voicing concerns, because you are never asked about your real problem!
What does this have to do with home education? If we school our children to accept the status quo, to accept what all those experienced folks know - that's just the way it is - we are fostering and furthering an unbiblical status quo. Aren't we as Christians called to further the Kingdom of God rather than accept the realities of the kingdom of man? Our children need to be taught, and re-taught that their "yes" should be "yes" and their "no," "no" - regardless of whom they work for or where they work. If we as a culture continue to acquiesce to the way things are, then things will always be that way. The chain needs to be broken.
The Word of God is an excellent customer service manual. Why? Because as Christians we are to recognize each and every encounter we have with others as an opportunity to have our light shine before them, reflecting Our Father in heaven. When we approach people with this in mind, we will treat them correctly. The work ethic that is correctly identified with the Puritans was undergirded by such a perspective. Our home schools should produce graduates who value each and every opportunity to represent Christ to the world. That means holding ourselves, our customers, and at times, even our employers accountable to do things in a God-honoring way. How glorious the day when God’s way is just the way it is.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].