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Moonlighting My Way to Customer Service Skills Vasudha Deming

Despite hold­ing what must be one of the best man­age­ment posi­tions in the entire train­ing and devel­op­ment indus­try, once a week I ven­ture out of my office, put on a uni­form and wait tables in a small, friendly restau­rant in my neighborhood.

Why? Well, it's not the money. As a vol­un­teer, I actu­ally don't even get paid. And it's not that I have time to kill—a hefty work­load and long to-do list are con­stants in my life. It's not even the fact that "sen­si­ble shoes" now come in adorable styles.

I wait tables because no other endeavor has taught me more about apply­ing cus­tomer ser­vice skills on the job. The key word here is apply­ing. Hav­ing devel­oped and facil­i­tated cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing for decades, I hon­estly don't think there's too much infor­ma­tion that I don't know.  But know­ing is not nec­es­sar­ily doing.

It's the appli­ca­tion of these skills—the con­tin­u­ous chal­lenge to be effi­cient and cheer­ful in the face of pres­sure, repet­i­tive tasks, and hun­gry, hur­ried diners—that results in the assim­i­la­tion of the knowledge.

In turn, I feel that my hands-on expe­ri­ence as a wait­ress increases my under­stand­ing of what my clients and trainees deal with on the job. Fur­ther, my empa­thy for them is con­tin­u­ally renewed (pretty much by the time I take my sec­ond table of the shift). They may be answer­ing billing ques­tions instead of sling­ing apple pie, but many of the tasks and tech­niques overlap.

One key premise of Impact's cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing course Get­ting to the Heart of Cus­tomer Ser­vice™ is that ser­vice (of any form) is an intrin­si­cally reward­ing profession—that there's just some­thing in the human psy­che that finds sat­is­fac­tion in mak­ing some­thing good hap­pen to another indi­vid­ual. I've cer­tainly found this to be true; I guess that's why I keep show­ing up for my shifts.

Vasudha leads the Per­for­mance Solu­tions Team at Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, reg­u­larly work­ing with lead­ing com­pa­nies to improve per­for­mance of their customer-facing ser­vice, sup­port, and sales teams. She is a lead devel­oper of Impact's suite of train­ing courses and has authored four books, includ­ing the pop­u­lar Big Book of Cus­tomer Ser­vice Train­ing Games, all pub­lished by McGraw-Hill.
5 Moonlighting My Way to Customer Service Skills
Vasudha Deming
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