Service with a smileAnthony O. Kellumcustomer service, automated systems
In a land far, far away, human beings once answered telephones.
Journey back with me to the glorious antiquity of "Hello ... How
may I help you?" I can remember not long ago when pleasant, living
voices were willing and able to help me. But to my dismay, service
with a smile has gone the way of the 8-track, and service via
automated systems more adequately describes the current state of
affairs. From automotive industry robotics and automated
underwriting, to the
if-you'd-like-to-speak-with-an-operator-please-press-9 command that
we all know so well, I lament the loss of our responsibility as
professionals to serve and invest in one another.
In the business community, I believe that we are in every sense
our brother's keeper. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all
inexorably entwined in the cycle of giving and receiving service.
As we oscillate from business owner to consumer, that which we sow
into the lives of others, we will inevitably reap. As joints neatly
fitted together presiding chairman and parcel deliverer;
broker/owners and patrons we form a unified body. Our collective
well-being remains in peril, due to a growing negligence, and
taking goodness and business for granted.
The United States has rested in the comfort of undisputed global
dominance for far too long. As products of our environment, we have
adopted a culture of arrogance founded upon self-gratification.
Today, each of us bears the scars of corrupt corporate leadership,
which robbed from within to serve personal gain. Idle employees
without purpose or vision abhor pride in their performance, and
unless we shake ourselves from this slumber, we are in danger of
losing the soul of that which made America great.
The evidence is mounting: from sub-standard manufactured
products to service providers that care more about their wallets
than their clients, too often our haughtiness becomes the root of
our own demise. Maximizing our potential for greatness means never
taking success for granted. As we categorize people and tasks as
important, unimportant, noteworthy or irrelevant, we must
acknowledge that everyone who walks through our door is a valuable
opportunity. And every business task we undertake is a broadcast
statement of who we are. As mortgage professionals, we have enjoyed
a refinancing boom, new heights for homebuyers, and record-low
interest rates. In spite of changing trends, rumors of war and
industry reform, we must remember to rage against the mediocrity of
I embody a simultaneous existence as business owner and
consumer. In both parallel realities, I perpetually wage war
against the cancer of apathy from within and without. I fight
against the subtle disregard of the entitled employee who lives by
the creed of "Sorry, that's not my job." Daily, I confront apathy
in public service, which is better described as sub-par
Complacency is a luxury that we never could afford. We must live
in the reality that it's always our job to reach beyond the
minimum. It's always our job to strive beyond the expectations of
our customers and the tasks assigned by employers.
As we struggle to survive industry reform, success is only
promised when we wholeheartedly strive to achieve the
extraordinary. That which we do not properly use, we are destined
to abuse and subsequently lose from the death of our corporate
integrity, to the loss of our employees and our livelihood. On our
winding road to success, never forget whatsoever your hands find to
do ... do it with your might.
As we continually export the treasure of "Made in America, as
mortgage brokers, we are still entrusted with the treasure of human
contact. In the bygone days of contracts bound by handshake and
your word as your bond, there was a profound simplicity in honor.
As we face tomorrow and the new borrowers it brings, let us fight
to not squander our credibility. With the privilege of being
mortgage professionals, it is never too late for us to cherish the
last remnants of the human touch. "How may I help you?" is a
question that we can answer in living color and work to live up
Anthony O. Kellum is Chair of the National Association of
Mortgage Brokers Affordable Housing Committee and Immediate Past
President of the Michigan
Mortgage Brokers Association. He may be reached by phone at
(888) 4-KELLUM, or e-mail [email protected]