Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we’re upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
President “Bobby”: Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time.  I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.

                                                                                                                – Being There

Behind my building in Queens, NY there is a back alley. It’s a relatively healthy plot of earth that my wife and I thought would make a wonderful garden to add some life to a rather lifeless area. We had been contemplating a garden for some time to honor the memory of our daughter’s twin sister, Summer, who passed away prior to delivery. This looked like the spot to do it.

We went to Home Depot and brought seasonal perennial flowers, seeds and some items for basic gardening and Summer’s Garden became a reality. It got us thinking about how rich the area is for beautification and what a wonderful opportunity it would be for other families in our building to come together and plant their own gardens. The campaign to bring awareness to it has just begun so I will update you on the progress but that is another blog.

Now, I’m a huge fan of the book and film, “Being There”, the story of a psychologically challenged man who tends to his garden and falls into becoming an economist with his simple wisdom of gardens and economic stability.  All this gardening talk made me realize the importance of a few things that companies can be doing in the garden of customer service and in community:
 
~ For everything, seeds must be planted. Whether it be with tools that customer service representatives need to grow and flourish or in the case of community outreach; dissemination of your intentions to raise awareness for a cause. All these things need a base. But the gardener must create the base for there to be growth.

~ The seeds must be nourished. Great customer service can only be achieved with support. It needs to come from C-Suite level to management and then the root, the team. Encouragement and acknowledgement is the greatest nourishment. For community outreach, the seeds must be nourished through educating your teams in what the cause is and its importance of its resulting success. Growth can only happen when the proper attention is paid to the project.

~ Sometimes, the plant must be trimmed but the root remains. Like plants, sometimes we must trim and prune to thwart contamination of the root. If there is an element of customer service that is being poisoned by negativity or disruptive behavior in an organization, don’t be afraid to trim that plant off. All it takes is one bad apple. Save the root and the core and make the necessary adjustments.

As I tend to Summer’s Garden with my daughter I try to explain as best I can these philosophies. To a three year old we must of course integrate ‘Tinker Bell’ into the discussion and though she may not understand everything we talk about, the seeds are planted. They will grow and I am certain she will nurture them.

Be the gardener. Plant the seeds in your company for great customer service reps. Plant the seeds to make a difference in your community.

Nurture them and the outcome will be fruitful for all.