THE LOST ART OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
THE LOST ART OF CUSTOMER SERVICE
40 years in customer service positions, ranging from sales, management, and various retail industries like restaurant, technical, and wholesale occupations have trained me in the knowledge of what customer service is.
Entering the workforce with McDonald's, I was introduced to the emphasis in how to treat the customer. Through the years I remembered those principles of customer service. The public places that I visited as a customer showed a wide acceptance of these same standards, regardless of the industry. As the years passed, however, I noticed a gradual decline in the value employees placed on customer service.
Today, there is little attention paid to this precious commodity. There is no critical realization the customer is why business exists. The customer is not an interruption, they are the reason we have work. Learning and adhering to that principle is a bedrock of return clients and client retention.
It could be as simple as just being nice or it could be a honed craft that involves a grand effort of human interaction that personifies how you want treated. It does take some effort and of course, honest, and sincere concern for someone other than yourself. You are representing the company you work for so through your action, or inaction, you influence how the public perceives your employer. The respect you have for yourself is a mirror of the respect you show others and that you have for the service you provide.
It seems, for a large part, this is lacking in society today. You can see it missing from the drive thru to the department store floor. Almost all retail establishments and from supposed customer service desks. Customer service has taken a back seat to hurried production and employee tasks. It is no longer a priority or a focus of employer training.
Yes, some people you encounter are rude and obnoxious as customers. These same people are someone else’s employee, how do you think they present themselves while working? Do you believe someone is generally rude outside of work but at work be a caring concerned person? Anger and ambivalence are transmittable emotions.
Everyone has heard the saying, “the customer is always right”. For a long time, I considered this an uninformed statement that disregards no one is perfect. Certainly if I can possibly be wrong then I can possibly be wrong also as a customer. Then at some point I realized this had nothing to do with wrong or right, it is an attitude. The attitude that the person standing in front of you or on the phone with decided to do business with your company, or the company you represent. Your appreciation and acknowledgement of this should include extending them the courtesy of listening to their concerns and responding in a way that respects them and honors your service.
Too many today are self-absorbed. Customer service has been replaced with oblivious interaction that disregards the customer and places the emphasis on the individual employee’s priorities. Priorities that may vary, but seldom include customer service. Where are those that are genuinely interested in you as a customer.
Not long ago, I was in an area Walmart and noticed a man pass me several times. I assumed he was looking for something and I asked him what he was looking for. He told me and I went to where I thought the item might be and found it. I found the man and gave it to him. He thanked me and went on his way. The point in this is, as I saw the man pass by several times, I also noticed floor workers standing in the area. I do not know why they did not help but this is just one of several accounts of a severe lack of customer service I have witnessed. I am not trying to pick on Walmart, as I have seen the same in other businesses.
I believe this trend will only get worse if companies do not train and demand employees treat people with earnest respect and appreciation for their patronage. If you hire someone and notice a lack in customer service skills, then train that employee or get rid of them.