World Change Wednesdays: First Thoughts on Being a Human Being


"In face, the very word consumer objectifies people, suggesting that their only role is to consume" - Conscious Capitalism (76).

Assumption: how we treat people, including customers at a business, can change the world.

Overflow value #1 is Quality Customer Service. To help new employees understand what "quality customer service" looks like, each Overflow barista hears the story of Mr. John W. Nordstrom, founder of Nordstrom department stores. As legend has it, Mr. Nordstrom accepted the return of a set of tires even though Nordstrom doesn't sell tires. You can learn more than you'd ever want to know about this legend here.

I'm starting to wonder though if we want to update this value to go above and beyond, "quality customer service" to something more like "treat human beings as human beings." Those who make purchases at Overflow are more than "customers." We form a community. In a community, individuals are valued in a different way than "the customer is always right." In an community, individuals are loved - which at a deeper level means they might not always get what they want, but they are lovingly nudged toward making choices that are better for themselves, the planet, and the people who live here.

Obviously, there's a tension. People need to get some or most of what they want in order to stay part of the community. I like how they summarize in Conscious Capitalism:

"Trust is critical to having a good relationship with customers and is developed by dealing with them with authenticity, transparency, integrity, respect, and love. When we develop a high-trust relationship with someone, he or she becomes like our friends and family. Whole Foods Market does not think of our customers as consumers or even as clients; we prefer to think of them as our friends and our guests when they are in our stores" (77)

I think this is what we do already at Overflow but "quality customer service" doesn't begin to describe it. "Treating human beings as humans beings" might be a step in the right direction.

What do you think would be a good way to communicate this value? Have you noticed us doing it well or not so well? Comment and share!

[I have a lot of thoughts about "treating human beings as human beings." This won't be the last time you see this phrase on this blog.]


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  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Ben and Jessica. “affirm human dignity” and “assuming the best” are both great thoughts!
  • So good. I think also giving customers (and just people in general) the benefit of the doubt and assuming the best is part of treating them rightly. Instead of “wow that dude ordered coffee like a jerk” I want to think “I bet they’re having a terrible day and I hope I made it a little better”. Change in thinking leads to change in action.
  • This is exactly why CAUSEGEAR has the face and name of the crafter of the product stitched on the inside. We all need to affirm human dignity.