The gift of ATTENTION!

As I was thinking about my next drawing inspired by the interview to my father, I wanted to combine two things: My father’s obsession about Customer Service and Seth Godin’s concept of the gift of attention.

I said it in the interview story, my father was obsessed with customer service. That was what made him indispensable and what kept him on business as he travelled the uncertainty of his map. He would not be available for his customers 24/7 as a big corporation may do nowadays, but he was available and willing to help and support his customers much more than the average for companies the size of the one he owned.

Have you ever asked yourself how old Customer Service is? It sounds like a weird question but I decided to ask it to google and I came across interesting information in the blog According to the blog, Humans figured out trade very early on. By 3000 BC, humans were setting out on missions of water bound trade, and by 1000 BC, merchants were becoming a part of societies. There were ideas about how to treat customers. The butcher, the baker and the local parfumier had to meet the needs of the customer with custom products as well as nascent marketing techniques. The blog also describes brief some of the milestones in Customer Service:

1760–1820: The industrial revolution creates the concept of “scale” and the need for customer service teams.

1876: Alexander Graham Bell patents the electric telephone. Customer service takes a leap forward as customers can avoid having to travel long distances for product information or to arrange for repairs.

1965: MIT’s CTSS Mail becomes the first host-based electronic mail program. Email becomes the primary way of interacting with customers online when the Web emerges in the 1990s.

Early 1980s: The invention of Interactive Voice Response (the thing that lets you say “yes” or “representative” to the telephone and automatically connects you).

1980s: Database software, which would evolve into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, evolves to be used in customer service.

1983: The term “call center” is created.

And the list goes on… My point is, customer service has been around for thousands of years, yet we still go to our favorite coffee shops and grocery stores and we don’t get the service we would like to get. Seth Godin says in “Linchpin” that part of it is the company’s responsibility but the sad part is that people that stay in those roles without trying to be indispensable are teaching themselves that this is the way to do their job. They are fully expecting that their next job, or the job after that, or the job after that — that’s when they will become Linchpins. If they wait for a job to be good enough to deserve their best shot, it is unlikely that they will ever have that job.

Going back to my father’s interview, what I really value about his experience and what he taught us is the obsession about putting the customer first and at the center of everything we do. As simple as it sounds, that was his secret. And because his job was a commercial operation, the way he executed customer service with excellence was through what Seth Godin describes as “The gift of attention”. Godin describes this concept in “Linchpin” through the following example:

The secret of Frank at Comcast

That’s the secret.

Frank Eliason has been featured on the front page of the New York Times, on television, and online about a million times. Frank is the online face of Comcast Cable, the occasionally loved, frequently hated cable behemoth.

Frank figured out that angry customers were often using Twitter to vent their rage about Comcast and their service or lack thereof.

One day, Frank tweeted back.

He showed up. Not because it was in the manual or because someone told him to, but because he wanted to help. It was a gift, not his job. Frank was honestly interested in connecting, and his generosity came through.

And you know what happened? The tweeters rejoiced. They were so stunned that a real person (with a name!) was listening that they instantly became fans. In less than a minute, they were converted from enemies and trolls into raving fans.

That’s how desperately we want to be touched by another person. That’s how much the gift of attention from a person means to us.

I intentionally marked some phrases in bold. Those are the ones that apply to my father. He would always show up at work, meaning truly showing up for his customers. He understood he was there to help and was honestly interested in connecting. He was very generous with all of them who remained loyal for decades. It was his gift to them and it meant a lot.

After reading Linchpin and trough my father’s career, I have been able to truly understand how much the gift of attention from a person means to us.



Business and Marketing leader. Starting a journey to inspire others through writing. Passionate about the "Linchpin" concept.

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Gustavo Pisani

Business and Marketing leader. Starting a journey to inspire others through writing. Passionate about the "Linchpin" concept.