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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Beauty and the devil

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Lynette Sowell

My front porch

Sometimes it takes forever to get me out of an art museum. When I’m at an art museum observing a painting, I look at the whole thing first. If I especially like it, I’ll step up for a closer look and take in the colors, the brush strokes, images in the painting. Details can be a beautiful thing. There is so much beauty in the details that we miss if all we do is glance at the whole painting and move on.

On the other hand, there’s the saying about the “devil in the detail.” I have seen this, for example, in home renovation projects. Like painting. Several years ago, we repainted our living room and were incredibly proud of our new, fresh look. I still love it. Overall, when someone walked into our living room, they could see the change right away and remark on how great it looked.

But then comes the devil in the detail, those little mistakes that take away from the quality of the paint job. Oops, I missed a smudge on that part. Ah, I see I didn’t cut in up at the door frame as nicely as I could have. When our chair rail was installed in our living room, the person helping us didn’t quite mitre the edges like they should have. In short, if we’d paid someone for the painting and the woodwork, we’d have been a bit disappointed in what they delivered to us, no matter how good the big picture looked.

The same goes for companies, organizations, churches, schools, cities, clubs, you name it. There’s beauty in the details, and also the devil in the details for the services they provide and we receive.

No matter what a company or entity proclaims from the top—“We have a top-rate product” or “We give an incredible service” or “We have a policy/ordinance/rule for that—” those claims are feeble when it comes down to day-to-day operations of those in the trenches dealing directly with customers.

When it comes to customer service, I realize that some customers are never pleased. They assume the worst and are even verbally abusive to the ones helping them. I’ve seen this with family who work retail jobs and hear the horror stories of customers cursing them out over something that’s not under their control. Those “customers”, whether it be a resident, a parent, a taxpayer, you name it, they’re impossible to please. The ones providing the service are wise to recognize that. They are also wise to take stock of the day-to-day operations and see: Who’s falling behind on the job? Why? Are they tired? Do they need more training? Is it something easily fixed? I’ve watched the show “Undercover Boss” a few times and it’s often quite eye-opening for the big-wigs to see how their employees operate.

And then, the best advertising for a business are the success stories, employees who are a delight to see whenever you visit the store or pay your bill. If a mistake does happen, they correct it with a smile and not defensiveness. The detail of a positive customer experience can’t be beat.

Ah yes, beauty and the devil are in the details. I will remind myself of this as I choose paint for our sitting room and give it a new look this spring. That, and I will let my husband cut in with painting the trim because he’s much better at it than I am.

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