The Secret to Service

Sallie W. Boyles

What is the secret to providing a service that yields utmost satisfaction to recipients?

Is the concept of service too broad in scope to allow for one answer?

Granted, services originate from countless sources and materialize in innumerable ways. People also have different means to gage a service’s fulfillment, such as by how it causes them to feel or what it costs. Accordingly, attributes of certain services are easy to quantify; other valuations are mostly subjective. Further, expectations can alter perceptions of a service’s quality.

Despite all the variables, superior service providers speak a universal language that elevates the merit of their efforts.

Consider the following examples:


The quintessential grandmother spends an entire day preparing a feast for her family. By the time everyone gathers around the table, her hands ache from slicing and dicing pounds of produce, and her legs are swollen from hours of standing on a tiled kitchen floor. Even so, she exudes joy and urges her loved ones to fill their plates and relish every bite.

Business Owner

With one employee out sick and another on vacation, a bicycle shop owner goes to work early and skips lunch to assemble two bikes for a customer to pick up on time for twin children’s birthday gifts. After his careful inspection, ensuring all parts are secure, the retailer spends extra time looking for a box of bows (that his employee had moved) to add the final touches. Later, as his stomach growls from hunger, he graciously thanks the delighted customer for the business without a hint of his personal sacrifice.


A business implements new software. Following the complicated instructions, an employee learns the program yet struggles to create a daily report. Working through the glitches, she keeps the moaning and groaning to herself and distributes the information on schedule to the people who count on her.

The Secret to Eliciting Satisfaction

To maximize the perceived benefit of any service one might grant, whether the motivations are personal or professional, age-old words of wisdom apply:

Silence is golden.

  • As a fellow business owner and friend of mine recently expressed, “Clients don’t pay us to complain.”
  • Likewise, a fragment of guilt can ruin all the pleasure that would have emanated from a favor.

Understandably, we humans sometimes wish certain individuals realized what we’ve sacrificed to serve them. With that in mind, here’s another thought to ponder:

Which is more gratifying: being needy or being needed?

Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

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