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What does customer service really mean?

customer service at flag and wire

It’s our goal that people would feel loved and cared for when they connect with Flag & Wire.

Years ago, I used to help my friend Richard (an older guy and a mentor in my young life) do logistical work for a church campout every summer. Church campout makes it sound tiny, but in reality it was hundreds and hundreds of people camping for just one weekend (which makes it harder because you have to have your ducks in a row or it’ll be a total mess). Everybody ate together on this campout and there were all kinds of other considerations like firewood and parking and security and hot water.

One year while we were getting ready for this big event, Richard sent me an email that started out this way:

“People will feel loved and cared for when there’s enough toilet paper available to them. When they know clearly where to go and what to do next….”

And it went on from there. It was helpful for that time in my life and for that event specifically. But that opening line was burned on my brains and I've ruminated on it ever since.

Richard was—still is—a little bit gruff on the outside and I think that his gritty exterior spooks people a lot of the time. On first blush, you might not guess that this guy is totally motivated by love. He wasn’t motivated by love for this one weekend each year. He was good at running this event each year because he was motivated by love. And I wanted to be just like him.

But the best made plans of mice and men really do often go awry. I’ve spent a lot of my time in the last 15 years not being motivated by love, not being motivated by ways that I can serve the people around me. But for Kim and me--for our company, Flag & Wire Coffee—the words Customer Service are all about that line from Richard’s email years ago.

flag and wire shop

We believe that every move we make—every business decision—should be viewed in that context. You could call it purpose or destiny maybe. Or calling. Those are all sort of exterior words but you could also call it our desire, which is more personal and intimate. It’s our desire to look at everything we do through a lens that asks: “will this decision contribute to or detract from people feeling loved and cared for?”

It’s part of why we love this industry in particular—it’s easy to find ways that we can add value and hopefully contribute to people feeling loved and cared for.

customers drinking coffee

Every person who walks into our coffee shop, every employee of our company, every importer, every processing employee and every farmer in the whole world is an “I”—an “I” with their own story and successes and loves and hates and belligerences and graces. And it’s an honor to be put in the position of loving them without regard. The world is full of people whose “I-ness” is not being treated with dignity or respect.

I don’t know. For me, for my family and for my company, I can’t always think in terms of “saving the world” or even “changing the world.” It’s difficult (but rewarding!!) enough to think in terms of remembering that people are “I”s and that they’re worthy of being loved and cared for.

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