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A thought over my morning cup of joe... customer service is not alive and well in the USA.

You may have missed it’s obituary, but Customer Service, long loved by consumers everywhere, passed away after a long decline due to neglect somewhere around the year 1995.

I am not surprised. I witnessed its demise over the last couple decades. We do not treasure the process of giving or receiving good service anymore, we no longer expect it, and when we get it, we are shocked!

How sad for us.

My rant here… the USA no longer produces anything. I mean something we are really known for in the world. We once produced great quantities of products…we still produce food (don’t get me started) and reality TV stars.

But, actually, we have become a country of service. And we suck at it. We no longer understand the art.

The decline began with the phone tree system of, time management. Rumor has it, once upon a time you could dial a telephone (that itself it is going away as well, ah another post), and a human would answer and direct you to your needs.

I am told it was amazing. Today however, I pressed 1 for …, Press 7 for…, Held for 12 minutes only to be asked to press my head against a wall till it bled. Seriously, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8,… what the #@$%, is now in vogue.

And the bad music playing… bad.

Wrong department needed…wrong.

25 mins later...

Who was I calling? Blood boiling, aggravation and exasperation and then they disconnect. Whose time was really managed here…did this really save us? Not in the long run.

Of course, this is one example, how about restaurants?

When was the last time you received real, honest-to-goodness service? Not, “here’s your food” quickly, not, “would you like fries?” Not, “my name is Brittney and I’ll be taking care of you today.”

Real service, the kind where someone treats you like a guest; where you are served from the left and dishes are removed from the right; when you where somewhere that someone might actually know what a “crumber” is and how it is used; or, you were treated like they like you and want you to return; you know “special”? Of course, you can receive this type of service if you are willing to pay large sums of money for an entrée and a vegetable is extra.

However, in a more customer-centric day and age, restaurants valued and understood service and trained their staff accordingly. Then we became obsessed with conformity. We began to train robots to operate the computer ordering system. Today the assembly line process is programmed in. Orders are taken and fulfilled via a digital flow chart and at the end of our transaction we are thanked in a tinny voice and instructed to have a nice day.

Are these “new world problems”? Maybe. But I ask you…when was the last time you dealt with the Cable Company? For most, this is an experience straight out of the “How to give bad service” manual.

I wonder? Do cable employees order cable like us mere mortals? Do they get scheduled for the 1-5pm slot and then find out the service man was booked for after 6pm?

Here’s what I believe… we tolerate bad service so it continues. I have a plan… let’s not allow bad service.

Better yet, create good service by rewarding good service. We start using words like “Thank you so much, your service has been a delight” or, “I enjoyed my service today and will be back.”

This is a start.

Next, let’s look at ways to increase good customer relations in our own companies. What makes your service better than your competitors business? If you are not a business owner but an employee, make your next contact with a client, guest, customer or person a legitimate connection. Listen better. It’s not about you or your company. It’s about the consumer, client, what the customer needs and gets. Imagine the next human you meet is wearing a sign that reads…

“Make me feel important!”

It’s a start. If you want to refocus your efforts on customer relationships and retention, I would suggest hiring a consultant to come in and train your team. This small investment will repay you many times over. This is what I do for my clients. I am happy to discuss the process with you any time.

Until next time, be your best.


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