Thursday, May 3, 2007

Customer Service

The lack of efficient, friendly customer service in this day and age never ceases to amaze me. We have become so accustomed to self-service (and bad service) that we treat any kindness given to us by a salesperson as extraordinary instead of as our right. If I am purchasing something from your company, then I expect to be satisfied with my entire experience from start to finish.

We all know that there are things that are beyond the control of even the most service-minded companies. I try to remember this when I get frustrated with slow service, particularly at restaurants. I think most of us try to put ourselves in the shoes of a flustered waiter or waitress who is waiting on food to be prepared and has no control over the situation.

I do take issue with the person behind the counter who feels as though they can't be bothered to do their job. You know the type....apparently they are doing me a favor by just showing up to work in the morning. Nothing irritates me more than standing in line for 10 minutes, finally reaching the checkout and being ignored when I greet the checker. I don't expect a soliloquy, but do expect common courtesies to be exchanged. This happens a great deal at the local grocery store where I live. The sackers are all high school boys who have nothing more on their minds than flirting with the high school girls who are the checkers. I roll up with my basket full of stuff, usually ready to pay and go home as quickly as possible, and all they want to do is flirt.

I really hate this when they try to draw me into it. "Isn't he being mean?" "Do you think I'm being mean?" Of course, neither one of them is being mean, they are just attempting witty banter and failing miserably. I just don't care. What I care about is getting the heck out the store with minimal energy expended on the state of your hormonal exchange. Of course, the whole time they are doing this, my ice cream is slowly melting because they can't talk and work at the same time.

Trevor and I were recently at WalMart and needed assistance with a locked display case. We asked for someone to be paged and then stood there and waited about 10 minutes with no sales associate in site. (Side note: calling the employees "sales associates" does not fool anyone.) I went around the corner in search of an employee and saw a woman with a blue vest who was sweeping. I asked her if she could open the display for us and she looked at me like I was from Jupiter and informed me that she only did housekeeping. I then asked her politely (but firmly) to page someone who could help us. If I told a patient who was throwing up in the middle of the hall that "I only do therapy" I would get fired! Not just that, but I am hard-wired to help. I would instinctively grab a basin and then clean up the mess. Not because I particularly like that part of health care, but because it needed to be done.

Maybe that's why I don't understand the basic rudeness of people in the service industry. It's their job to be helpful, polite and considerate. They don't have to like what they do for a living (although I would suggest a different career choice), but they do need to have basic skills for human interaction. I wonder at how many of them were raised by wolves to not possess even the most basic of social skills. Greet with a smile, do your job quickly and efficiently, tell the customer thank you and come again. That's all that is really required and it's not like it's rocket science. It just common courtesy, which sadly, is becoming a lost art.

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