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Customer Service in America – Where’s Your Pride

Updated on January 22, 2020

When you think of customer service, your thoughts may flash to a service counter at a local retail or grocery store. Maybe you think of a sales person, a cashier, or perhaps a waitress. While individuals holding these types of positions are the front line for providing customer service, we often don’t think of other positions that have less contact with the general public. The truth is no matter where you work, no matter what your job is, customer service IS part of your job description. We all provide and receive customer service. I’ve held this belief my entire working life.

Now granted, some people are better at providing customer service than others, and some positions don’t put people in direct contact with the general public, but if you think in terms that EVERYONE relies on SOMEONE for SOMETHING – then we ALL are customers requiring service.

Quality of service where you are

Here, I would love to conduct a survey to get your view of the quality of customer service around the country, (or the world if the shoe fits). 

Scenario #1.  Let’s say I am a shopper at a retail store and I’m looking for a particular (insert any item here).  I’m not sure if the store carries the item and wander through aisle after aisle scanning the shelves, as I am not sure where the item is stocked in the store.  I see a store employee, approach them, and ask for assistance.  The employee tells me they are unfamiliar with the item and unsure if the store carries it. 

Let’s all vote on what happened next:

 

a)      The employee simply walked away

b)      The employee told me about a big sale in the electronics department

c)      The employee apologized for not being able to help me and went on to assist another customer

d)      The employee stayed with me and made inquiries to other employees until the item was found or it was determined the store didn’t carry it.

Scenario #2. This time let’s say YOU are the employee from scenario #1. Using the same options from above, what would you have done? You need not reveal your answer for this one.

While public perception or the “Image” of any business depends greatly on the quality of the product, often, customer service, from beginning to end is valued more by consumers.  So who is responsible when a business has a poor image?  

Let’s review another scenario:

Scenario #3. Let’s take that item from the earlier scenario and consider all the people who play a role in the steps taken to deliver the product to the consumer, from start to finish.

1) The designer of the product

2) The manufacturer, assembler and labeler/packer of the product

3) The purchasing manager responsible for ordering products at the retail store

4) The person/company transporting the product to the retail store

5) The receiving manager at the retail store

6) The stock person at the retail store

7) The sales/service person at the retail store

8) The store manager, regional manager, company CEO

A failure at any one of these steps can damage a business, especially if the failure is repeated frequently. Enough failures and a business could close.  If the business closes, who is out of a job?  

But let’s get back to my point, which is some people are just not pulling their weight. Ok, so you hate your job and you don’t feel like being courteous or helpful. “I’m a princess, and people should have to wait on me, not the other way around.” “I don’t like dealing with people, they’re so rude and nasty, and the older ones smell horrible.” “Why should I do my best for some CEO bringing down six figures and I’m barely making ends meet?” “I do my job and that’s all I get paid for.” Tell me these are not some of the attitudes we’ve all encountered by co-workers? Maybe some of us are guilty too? Am I right? Herein lies the problem.

It’s an “All About Me” sickness that has permeated every aspect of human society. I want more - Give me what I want - Mine is better than yours - Why should I go out of my way for someone else - I deserve better. All of these, and many others that you can think of, is the mindset a great number of people have adopted. I don't know what causes people to be this way and I can't put my finger on a particular time in our culture that it began enmass. This didn’t happen over night, but we have got to do our best to combat these attitudes and turn back the tide and restore personal pride.

Ours is an “At Will” working environment country.  If you don’t like your job you can quit, (please don’t say it’s not that simple, I already understand this).  I’m simply taking the stance that if you have a job, do it to the best of your ability.  Perform it with pride.  Each day come with the attitude that you play an essential role.  While you are there, learn something about a different role, one that could help you to advance in your current company or in a different company.  Each job we hold offers so much more than just a paycheck.  Go out of your way to help people.  You may not get any recognition from that person but it is the best attitude to have, and you never know who is watching.  Someone else entirely may take notice and steal you away to another company or position.  That has happened to me, so I know it can happen.

 

Now granted, I have not always been smiley or bubbly every day of my working life.  We all have had a day here and there where we were preoccupied with worries over something, or perhaps not feeling well and just weren’t our usual self.   

We must do what we can to combat these attitudes, whether they are our own or someone else’s.  We’ve all heard the phrase “Kill them with kindness”.  I think it’s true, that kindness can work to bring about change in someone’s attitude.  If you possess these ugly attitudes, be kind to yourself.  Affirm that you are a good person and wish to become the best person you can be, no matter what job you hold.  Look for the positive in your current position and identify how it has benefited you as a person or as a worker.  Step back and try to see what you look like from someone else’s view, (who you are, how you carry yourself, how you conduct yourself, not physically, silly). 

What about other people with those ugly attitudes?  What can we do to help them?  I know, it’s hard to be nice to some people, lol.  What’s that saying “Do unto to others..” and no, you don’t split!  I think we all can tell when someone is having a rough day.  Take a moment and give a cheerful smile to that person; try to make the day a little more bearable.  If you find someone who’s paid to be helpful is not being helpful, take a minute to engage that person in a brief but positive conversation that manages to bring a smile to his or her face. Call them dear and thank them for taking a few minutes out of their busy schedule to speak to you.  Sometimes we just need to feel respected and appreciated in order to give respect and appreciation.  There are far too many people out there in thankless jobs, working for someone who is either incapable of showing appreciation, or sadly is too overworked themselves to encourage their employees or voice their appreciation for the work their employees have performed.

As for the Princess attitude, it takes a pro to change that around.  But feel free to challenge yourself and go for it!  Make it your mission.  The worst that could happen is they don’t change and YOU become a better person.  Take pride in everything you do.  Let’s serve each other with genuine concern and a positive attitude, and we just might be able to turn this country around.

Have a great day dear, and thanks for visiting with me today!

Comments

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    • nflagator profile imageAUTHOR

      nflagator 

      10 years ago from North Florida

      Hey DDW and NE,

      I think we should expect helpful service, (though I wouldn't say be mean and demand it). It's tough out there for everyone, I know.

      The company I work for is awesome, especially its training programs and emphasis on customer service. I believe EVERYONE can be courteous and helpful. Having good customer service skills can give you the edge over someone else when you are job hunting or hopping.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • N.E. Wright profile image

      N E Wright 

      10 years ago from Dover, Delaware

      Hi,

      I enjoyed this article.

      I do not expect much from almost any worker in stores now a days. That is sad, but true.

      Recently I have shopped inside a big change store while filling my son's prescription. I was buying birthday gifts for my only sister.

      I needed someone to show me some earrings I wanted for her, and no one was in that department. So I decided to search for someone. And search, and search until I came nearer to the pharmacy department.

      When I saw a worker I asked him for help. He politely told me he could not help me, because he worked in the pharmacy, and he was not a cashier.

      Wow, I thought to myself, get me help. My arms are filled. LOL. He just smiled and went behind the counter. LOL.

      Once I found out I could purchase my items at the pharmacy counter I did. My purchase would have been over $100.00 if I would have had help with getting those beautiful earrings, but I did not.

      Again, I do not expect much, but it is nice when I do encounter a really dedicated worker who has no problem with helping customers.

      Thanks for this article.

      Take Care,

      N.E.

    • DonDWest profile image

      DonDWest 

      10 years ago from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I think the biggest problem is there are far too many "customer service orientated" positions and not enough personalities to possibly fill them. A lot of people are in customer service were there personalities are simply ill suited, despite their best efforts to rectify the situation, they come up short on the performance end. To make matters worse, almost 100% of entry level jobs are very heavy on the customer service. In order for such people to get promoted into a position that is perhaps a bit more suitable, they have to master what they're not so naturally good at. I call this a "Reverse Peter Principle". The Peter Principle is getting promoted into your level of incompetence. A Reverse Peter Principle is having to start in an area of incompetence to reach your area of competence. Not everyone is a people pleaser, hence the problem with customer service today. It's expected that at least 80% of the population become people pleasers because 80% of the jobs are in customer service.

      The fact of the matter is humans are unique beings and we need job variety for the economy to function. Thanks to globalization and outsourcing, job variety has taken a real hit. For example, do you think an artisan type personality can ever become an expert customer service worker? Sure, they can try their best to "not be bad", but that's as far as they'll get...

      Perhaps what is needed is recognition and tolerance on the part of customers. Fact of the matter is we have a disproportionate number of customer service type jobs in this economy, so naturally people that are ill-suited will be in these type of jobs. I'm not saying you have to cheer the people on or necessarily tolerate horrible service, but if you see an employee struggling and trying his/her best, but he/she obviously doesn't have the aptitude for this kind of work, it might be best to just let it go...

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