09
Aug
07

Customer What? Problem #2

The second problem with the customer service industry in America is that Americans are so far removed from independant businesses that they don’t know how to recognize and reward decent service when they get it and certainly don’t know how to ask for it if they don’t.  We have become conditioned and institutionalized by the sheer volume of box stores, fast food joints, and chain restaurants, and are somehow comforted by receiving the same crappy service in LA as we would in _______ insert name of any city (and most small towns) here.  When we’re all receiving the same kind of service no matter where we go, we tend not to be able to describe what we want or need from those providing it.  There are two things you should be able to expect from any employee anywhwere you shop or eat.

Expecation #1. Service with a smile.  In the service industry, the employee’s sole function is to give you what you want (within reason) regardless of how you are behaving (have we all forgotten that the customer is always right?).  Don’t get me wrong.  I am in NO way condoning rudness towards those in the service industry (and patrons who become belligerant should be refused service), but their JOB (what they are being PAID to do) is to be nice to you.  If they can’t handle that, their first response should be to briefly exucse themselves and immediately contact another employee or a supervisor who can effectively deal with your needs (or attitude).  All service employees should greet the customer and ask what they need, (it is, of course, common curtosy for you not to begin speaking until they have had the opportunity to do so).

Expectation #2. Effective completion of their function.  Wait staff should be able to take your drink and food order (and get it right), deliver your drinks and food within a reasonable period of time, and present your check when asked (though you shouldn’t have to ask, but that’s a personal preference).  Cashiers should know or be able to quickly look-up the price of anything you are purchasing, and should be able to answer questions (within reason) about the items most frequently purchased.  Stockers should be able to provide you with the location of and answer questions about whatever you’re looking for (again, within reason).  Both should be able to find someone who can help you if they cannot.

I don’t happen to think those things are too much to ask for.  Some people do, which is Problem #3 in a series of posts I had no idea would be this long, but I started this, so I might as well finish it.  Thanks again to Saur for the original idea.

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1 Response to “Customer What? Problem #2”


  1. August 9, 2007 at 8:09 am

    Wait… stockers are supposed to KNOW where things are in the stores? Get outta town!

    This is my biggest peeve with big-box stores, especially ones like Home Depot. If I’m looking for a specific tool or piece of equipment, I have to ask 3 different people and MAYBE one of them will A) know what I want and B) where to find it. Specialty stores are hardest to deal with in this area – like hardware stores. It used to be that your local hardware guy would know everything he had and where it was in the store and more importantly where to get it if he didn’t carry it.

    As for asking for the check – that’s different depending on cultural norms. In some places (France and many other places in EU) it is considered rude to give a patron their check before they’ve asked because it seems like you’re rushing people. But yes – get the order correct and return in a reasonable amount of time. I’d also add that if the server is busy, I am totally able to understand that. But then, swing by our table the next time you’re around and just give me a clue that you haven’t forgotten. A look, a nod, a “It’ll be a few minutes” – something.


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I am not perfect. I do my best to practice what I preach, but I am human. My mantra is, "DO NO HARM". I may not always succeed, but I will always try. My goal is to be a better person today than I was yesterday.

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