We cannot serve others' interests if we don't know what those interests are. We can take a swing at it and hope we connect. We can make a pretentious show of serving others' interests without actually getting those interests served. We may hit the target and find others' saying their interests have been served by us.
Sometime we experience others' interests as difficult to identify accurately, too conflicted to sort out or too opposed to our own interests. We will then abandon the project of serving others' interests and serve our own instead. When we serve our own interests, we'll begin to win at others' expense. We'll identify ourselves as winners and others as losers, misfits or deviants. We'll assume there's no ways to get both sets of interests served since they appear irreconcilable. We'll stick to our own kind and distance ourselves from opportunities to learn about outsiders' changing interests.
Institutions are too big to serve others' specific interests. They are limited to serving the common good or the public interest. They avoid pandering to special interest groups who seek to gain advantage over others or win at the expense of the common good. Institutions also pursue their own interest in self preservation at all cost. They presume there is no way for the public interest to benefit from an institutional collapse. Institutions show signs of arrested development and bureaucratic stagnation because there's no way they can learn how public interests have changed. The common good is a given, not something to explore or evolve.
Customer service presumes to understand customers well enough to give them extra attention in ways they appreciate. For instance, the entertainment industry tries to psyche out its audience well enough to give them what they'll find engaging next. A market-based enterprise will serve its customers well knowing this will generate revenue, profitability, customer loyalty and favorable buzz. The more service that connects, the more interests the customers will reveal in hopes of getting more and better service. Customer driven enterprises realize that serving their own interests becomes a losing game. Rivals are eager to jump on the mistake and customers are willing to switch providers to another that serves their interests better. It pays to learn others' interests and change with them as they evolve.
In our increasingly networked world, every participant can serve others' interests easily. Passive consumers are fading away. The opportunities for contributing to others's interests abounds. We have new ways to jump in, help out and lend a hand. The distinction between providers and customers gets blurred by the interconnections back and forth. It pays to give as well as to get. Networking makes it far easier to discern others' interests. Everyone in a network is putting specific, personal interests on display where others' can get a good read of them. It's more obvious how everyone of us is a bundle of interests and alliances. There are many ways to serve us and as many ways to serve others. It's no longer the big deal that market-based enterprises make of customer service. It's far more responsive and nuanced that institutions' clumsy attempts to serve the common good. It's a big switch from a culture spawned by individuals and enclaves serving their own interests exclusively.