Sunday, April 20, 2008

Service with a Smile

Do you ever wonder what happened to good, old fashioned customer service? I grew up working in my family owned greenhouses and flower shop, and since the age of six I stood behind the counter and waited on customers. One of the first things my dad emphasized to me was to always thank the customer when we would hand their change back to them, saying "thank you, and come back soon." We were taught to value our customers, and we would even hand a free carnation to them sometimes to show our appreciation.

Perhaps that is why I am tempted to get impatient when I shop these days, and we enter a store and have to look for a long time to even find a store clerk to answer a question, only to have them get irritated for interrupting them from what they were doing. Then they point to what we are looking for (I must be really stupid, because I never seem to be able to find it where they said it should be (tip for all you sales representatives: don't just point the customer to what they are looking for, walk them to it if possible). Checking out at the grocery store sometimes can bring out the worst in people too--I realize these people are probably overworked and underpaid or maybe just having a bad day, but it would be nice to hear a thank you when they are done checking you out, or at least smile. Then a fellow missionary wife told me that it isn't customary for them to smile, which helped me understand better. Besides that, most of them are not saved--what do they have to smile about anyway?

Even as an unsaved person though, it never mattered to me what job I had, whether cleaning tables at a cafeteria, working in a fast food restaurant, or cleaning bathrooms--I tried to do the best job I could because I took pride in a job well done. My dad always taught me to go the extra mile. We were also taught that the customer is always right. Now I realize, these days there are some consumers who abuse generous return policies. In the US for example, you can pretty much return anything within a reasonable amount of time if you have a receipt or even if not, at least get an exchange. Here in the Canary Islands though, in order to return something, you feel like you are going "on trial" in order to prove that the merchandise is faulty. We have had some bad luck recently with some electrical appliances not working. I tremble before having to return something here. The customer is never right here--they will actually blame you and accuse you of breaking it yourself. Sometimes I wonder if the hassle is worth it.

Oh well, I could go on and on.....another pet peeve.....when you call a company for service and spend 10 minutes trying to work through their automated touch tone network. Then they never give you the option you are looking for, like, to speak to a customer service representative, press 0!!! That is all I want. Just let me talk to a "real" person. To make things worse, now you don't have to press any keys--you get to talk to a voice activated computer robot. Now this really complicates things. The other day I spent 15 minutes "talking" to a computer and all she could say was, "I am sorry, I didn't understand your response. Please try again." Ugggghhhh!!!

No comments: