The Royal Treatment

The other day my wife, Linda, and I had the distinct pleasure of attending a tea hosted by former royal butler David Woodfine at O’More College of Design here in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. Besides preparing the scones from scratch, topped with real whipped cream, Woodfine regaled the group gathered on the lawn of the 19th century mansion that houses the design school’s headquarters with several engaging stories.

Woodfine laced his stories with wit and wisdom gleaned from more than five decades of service to such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, and numerous other royal personages. But of all the pithy quips and quotes he shared, the most compelling to me was his comment that “southern hospitality is second to none.” That is some compliment coming from one of the premier practitioners of hospitality.

As a born and bred southerner, I can attest that we are generally an hospitable lot. Even as my wife and I were in the process of relocating to this area, we were welcomed by our landlords to stay with them for the long weekend until our apartment was ready for occupancy and allowed to use their truck for the week until we got a car of our own, which was a big blessing to us. And such graciousness is not altogether uncommon here.

But the truth of the matter is that Scripture admonishes believers in particular to practice hospitality with one another. Whether we invite others to share a meal with us in our homes or out at a restaurant, or even to fellowship without food, we are urged to “roll out the red carpet” and give each other the royal treatment, for we are noble in our own right. If one with such stature as Jesus Christ came to serve us, surely we can serve one another.

High Tech and High Touch

The toys of choice for my wife and I this Christmas were a couple of matching Nokia cell phones. The quad-band GSM world phone includes Bluetooth capability, a music player, a camera, a radio, and email functionality, among other stuff. I spent the better part of the last couple days familiarizing myself with its bells and whistles and am impressed with it. But what I am even more impressed with is the service of the local AT&T store manager.

We actually purchased the phones on sale at the Target store across the street but went to AT&T to get them activated. During the process, a store associate unnecessarily got in a hurry and sliced into my wife’s new phone with a razor blade while trying to retrieve it from the vice-like grip of its plastic packaging.

To his credit, even though we did not purchase the phones at the AT&T store, the manager not only agreed to give us a brand new phone but also allowed us to keep the damaged one for its extra battery and memory card. One does not ordinarily experience such extraordinary service, so I am seizing this opportunity to celebrate high tech stuff and high touch service.

Secrets for Success

I am a frequent flyer with Southwest Airlines and am continually amazed at how they succeed by flying in the face of conventional wisdom. As an example, on my last trip with them I was delighted by the availability of comfy leather chairs in the waiting area as well as marble-topped side tables featuring charging docks for laptops and iPods. Wow, now that is superior customer service!

I also read an insightful article titled “Southwest’s Seven Secrets for Success” in the latest issue of Portfolio magazine. The article articulates the success secrets as: 1) One plane fits all, 2) Point-to-point flying, 3) Simple in-flight service, 4) No frills, no fees, 5) Strong management, 6) A relatively happy workforce and 7) Aggressive fuel hedging. It proves why Southwest is popular and profitable.