Customer Service – where has it gone?

August 13, 2007

Has anyone noticed a change in customer service in the last few years?

My father was a businessman, who was well respected in his industry, because no matter how much his company grew, he remained humble and honest, and always, always found a way to meet his customers’ needs. I learned at an early age that happy employees were productive ones and happy customers returned. My brother now runs the company and is still doing business with clients my Dad met over thirty-five years ago.

Is it a wonder that I ended up in retail? I went to college to become a CPA, but part way through, I changed my major to Business. At the time, I was working part-time at Burdines (Federated Department Stores) now known as Macy’s. As I worked my way up the executive ladder, I found my passion to be the people side of the business. Setting an expectation for outstanding customer service was easy; (1) make eye contact and say hello (2) be nice to everyone (3) learn to read the customer – some want more attention than others (4) meet the customer’s needs and (5) if there is a problem, fix it with a smile.

Are those standards no longer expected? Is the focus of the employer different? Are employees still trained and given the basic tools to succeed? Do they understand the importance of interacting with the customer? Of simply being nice? OR is the client more tolerant of less? Do we settle for poor service, which (like in the limbo) lowers the bar of acceptable assistance? What about follow-through? When someone makes a promise, do they fulfill it?

What has created a world of minimal eye-contact, strained smiles, sometimes no acknowledgement at all? Is there a feeling out there that there is no sense of urgency?

Do you have a place you visit, because they still believe in outstanding customer service? Have you stopped going somewhere, because they don’t? I’m all ears – and would love to know your thoughts. 

In the meantime, I’m smiling! Are you? cm 


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