Fake Customer Service

super smileThe other day I went into my bank and had to walk between two rows of greeters to reach the teller window. Six people on staff to call out a welcome greeting, three on each side, all dressed up, shiny young professionals with huge smiles on their faces. I won’t reveal the name of the bank, however their greeting sounded like, “Welcome to Smells Cargo!” When I got into the line I was the eighth customer waiting. Two teller windows were open. Both of those tellers had a “personal banker” standing beside them to chat up the customers and offer them special banking packages which added considerably to the time it took for their transactions. One of the greeters broke away and offered each of us a bottle of water while we waited, apologizing for the wait and wishing us to have a great day.

That was ten employees and only two tellers working. That didn’t even count another five or six people sitting in cubicle offices staring at computers or papers, none with a customer. Something about this struck me as wrong, so I made a suggestion. I did it smiling and with a calm and pleasant tone of voice. I merely said, “Maybe it would be more helpful if a couple of you went in and opened more teller stations so we wouldn’t have to wait so long.” Everyone in the bank gasped and stared at me like I was a chupacabra with a half eaten goat hanging from my slavering jaws. A big question formed in my mind. Do most people come into a bank for fake smiles and free water or to conduct business efficiently and get on with their lives?

Does the friendly appearance of customer service replace the need to actually serve the customer? And what does this reveal to the church?

Over the last three decades the seeker friendly church has become a powerful force. From the smiling parking lot attendants to the simple to follow direction signs, to the uber-cheerful, hearty handshake door greeters, to free coffee and (sometimes free) donuts. From comfy seats to crazy good worship music. If you haven’t been to church since the 1960’s, you would be surprised. I love it and it has made an appealing change in the church.

But is it merely the appearance of friendliness or is it truly serving people with what they need? It’s a great start but don’t forget to open your heart and your life and take someone by the hand and walk them to Jesus.

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