Customer service isn’t a strategy.

For decades organizations and leaders have tried to determine the secret to successful customer service. We have developed strategies and implemented processes all in an effort to get closer to engaging customers and selling our products/services. But does all of that matter?

About a week ago, I was on Facebook and I stumbled upon a video that most of you have likely already have seen. If you haven’t, please take a minute or two to watch.

Exhibit A for great customer service right? Now before you go thinking that this is a great little viral ad for Starbucks (which it is), I think we need to look beneath the surface and determine where great customer service comes from.

This is Sarah Campbell. She is also a Starbucks barista. Do me a favor and watch this video and “listen” to what she is saying.

“You have to understand, the reason I started working for Starbucks is that I love communicating with people. Oh my goodness, I love it so much!” – Sarah Campbell

So where does great customer service come from? It’s roots are grounded in empathy. Truly caring for another person. Seems Starbucks is doing a pretty decent job of finding people who actually care.

You can develop customer service strategies. You can enlist best practices. You can train your people how to smile, greet, and talk to kindly to people. But if they don’t truly care, the proper strategies, best practices, to-do’s and processes make for some great icing, but in the end, the cake will crumble.

Customer service isn’t found in expediting a product delivery process. It’s not optimizing your product life-cycle. That’s par for the course. Customer service is found in caring, looking beyond your product and service and meeting your customers where they’re at.

Because, let’s be honest, you don’t define customer service. Your customers do.

We all need each other.

There has been so much coverage about the Ebola outbreak that I doubt one more blog post will provide any additional clarity or answers, but I think this needs to be said.

We all need each other.

Just this week, we’ve read stories about two nurses who have come down with the virus, and the outcry from many has been everything from the lack of protocol that was followed, or how they did not take necessary precautions, etc. And while I think we all agree that processes need to be in place to ensure that everyone is protected from a pandemic, we have a tendency to rush to judgement and forget that we are talking about people.

Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

NEWS FLASH: We are not infallible, we are human. It’s because of this very fact that we need each other. This is true in every aspect of life. Sports teams don’t win without teammates, businesses don’t deliver without coworkers and communities don’t stay healthy without healthcare workers.

For what it’s worth, I wanted to take a moment for us to consider a few ways we can talk about the issues that concern us in a manner that respects everyone involved.

• Public condemnation doesn’t solve problems. Solutions do. Listen. I get it. We all make mistakes, and some can be pretty colossal. But instead of resorting to public ridicule, we should offer solutions that will move us all forward. It’s easy to criticize from the sideline, it’s much harder to be in the game. We should be grateful our “I need a do-over” moments don’t end up as trending topics on Twitter for the entire world to see. We really need to see more of this;

• Remember The Golden Rule. Have we forgotten this little gem? “Treat others as you would like to be treated”. It’s such a simple and powerful reminder for how we should engage one another. Our rants are not likely to make the kind of impact that change political policy. We’ve all seen this friendly reminder;

• If we care, let’s say it. At the end of the day, we’re providing our commentary because we care. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t. Right? However, when we show that we “care”, the very word should invoke a sense of treating others with a certain concern or protection. Some would call that empathy. What does that look like? Exhibit A;

• Wrap your criticism. Some of the best critiques I ever experienced in college were the ones that included criticism wrapped in positive comments. It’s been referred to as the “feedback sandwich”. If we truly have something constructive to say, let’s wrap those pearls of wisdom with some positive, encouraging words. Trust me, if it’s authentic, it works.

• Realize we all have a heartbeat. Our lives are, and will continue to be, intertwined with people. We will continue to work with, play sports with and live life with…people. Let’s try extending grace to those we don’t understand, encourage those who’ve made mistakes and ultimately be the kind of culture that builds bridges instead of burning them.

What would it look like if we put these into practice? Let’s do it. Let’s see what happens. I guarantee you will see positive results. Did someone make a mistake? Encourage them. See a problem that needs fixed? Offer a solution. Have a critique? Wrap it with some TLC.

And to Nina Pham and Amber Vinson? You are the very nurses we should all want taking care of us. You think of others before yourself, exemplifying qualities that we should all be representing to each other everyday. We’re praying for your quick recovery.

Have some thoughts on the matter? Comments are free of charge.