I recently got involved in an interesting conversation about the difference between “personal” and “custom” service. I thought they meant the same thing.
I have a different view now.
“Custom” describes a service that’s been modified to suit my particular needs. That’s great. Today’s economy is driven by providing customers lots of choices – enough that, when you add them up, it feels like a one-of-a-kind product or service.
The trouble is, today’s economy is also driven by mass-producing these choices. That drives down costs.
“Personal” describes a service characterized by a connection with a human being. That’s different. It’s like adding the third dimension to a two-dimensional set of choices. It has life. And, it’s not just about the customer, but the service provider as well. There has to be a real match to foster the kind of connection that makes personal service work. And, the service provider has to be not just sensitive to the customer, they have to be very skilled in order to meet not just the technical needs of the customer, but the human needs as well.
I like this distinction. It helps me describe what I do – what I love doing. It’s fun to help someone with a WordPress problem; it’s joyful to connect with someone on a personal level while I’m doing it.
Personal service brings a richness that’s important to me. That’s why I don’t work in a call center.