Friday, May 21, 2010

Service Without a Smile

Along with the implosion of polite public discourse, political compromise and co-operation comes the end of customer service. It is dead for all practical purposes. No one cares, you pays your money and you takes your chance. If something is wrong, well good luck in finding someone who cares. Good luck even finding someone to provide service. And if they say they will do something... I give it 50/50 that they will.

I have so far been stood up by 3 different concrete contractors. My friend Amy has been stood up by three totally different one. I guess they are so busy in this booming economy that they do not care for my piddly little $2000 job. I made a call to a structural engineer firm, asked for a fellow by name, told his voice mail who had referred me and never heard back.... nothing. It is a 50/50 chance my roofer will come by after reminding him he promised to come by and look at a problem 2 weeks ago. (It seems he is on his way... we will see...). Please, if you do not want my business, then tell me so. I'll go quietly and not bother you. But if you say you do and then piss me off and I will be sure everyone I know will hear about you.

And then when you do get served.. well that is a different story.

Years ago, I worked my way through college as a waiter in a fine restaurant in my home tow, The owner was a bit of a stooge, but the manager was smart and went on to own several successful restaurants. He always told us that if a customer wanted something in reason, they were to get it. If they asked for bluefin tuna and we didn't have it, that was something else. No sauce on a dish.. no problem, a pepsi and vodka with a shot of gin... whatever floats your boat...

Last night at a fancy, jackets-for-gentlemen members only club the waiter got in to a heated argument with a member who was hosting a party (little ol' me got to go!) over how to make a Brandy Alexander. This guy was belligerent and even brought over an i-phone or some such device to show him that it was made with chocolate. The customer wanted one with just ice cream and brandy. That is the way I have always had them. Now, if it were me, he would have had it the way he wanted it. When I stated that I did not like chocolate, he did not offer to make me one without, he simply said it was that way or nothing. I passed until Scott raised a bigger ruckus. It was quite tasty but they forgot the nutmeg... I didn't want to start another war.

Sad that we have come to this. I blame the work environment these days for creating the throw-away employee, laying off at a whim to make someone else richer, cutting manpower to the bone, taking away benefits and making loyalty as rare as hen's teeth.

I don't have a solution.. well maybe I do. When I worked for a company that actually stressed and practiced customer service on a daily basis, we made money, we did well and I had less employee issues than in the past. So it can be done. It just takes a change from "making value for our stakeholders" (translate make our rich stockholders richer) to "doing onto others as you want them to do unto you".

Simple really.

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