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Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm Having a Rant: The Service Industry

What's wrong with people who work in the service industry these days? I mean, yes, some are great. Helpful, smiling, couldn't do enough to ease your consumer pain. But all too often these days, I come across some who really just don't give a...well, you know what.

Take the woman who served me the other day from behind the counter at a local cafe. You would expect a greeting something along the lines of "May I help you?" But what did I get instead? A look. Just a look. A look that seemed to say, "Whaddya want? God, I'm so bored. Just give me your damn order so I can go in the back and shoot myself."

And then, after I ordered, and changed my mind (a woman's prerogative, you know), I received no comment. No, "No problem." Just a sigh and a pause whilst she no doubt attempted to decide how on earth she could possibly change my order from a smoothie to a cup of tea? I mean, I felt for her. Really, I did. Making decisions like that are right up there with, "How do I solve world hunger?" and "How can I promote world peace?" No wonder she wore a pained expression on her face when she eventually served me my tea.

It also bugs me the way in which how many of those in the service industry ask if you need assistance. When I worked behind a reception desk, about a million years ago, I would greet each customer paying their rent with, "May I help you?" AND a smile. Here's the normal question I hear these days when I'm waiting for assistance: "Are you right?"

I'm always so tempted to say when someone asks me that, "Well, you know, no one can be right 100% of the time, now can they? I like to think, that when I give my opinion on something, I know what I'm talking about. I mean, don't we all? (*wink*) But, no. I'm not always right. Am I right at this very point in time? Well....oh. I'm sorry. What was it that you were asking me if I'm right about? I've forgotten." (insert sarcastic smile)

Of course, there's also the more direct answer to that question, being, "Well, do you think I'm 'right'? I mean, considering I've been standing here in this line for the last 10 minutes, behind this sign right here that says, 'Please wait here for assistance' with a shoe from your store in my hand, and my toddler having a tantrum over there because I won't let him wear those $249 pair of boots you've got on display..do you think I'm 'right'?"

Whatever happened to, "May I help you?" or "How can I help you?" Is it really that difficult, people?

And don't get me started about standing in line, waiting for ages, whilst the person behind the counter serves someone else for what seems like an hour (or chats on the phone - ugh!) with not even so much as a "Sorry to keep you waiting. I'll be with you in just a moment." That's all I want. Just a little of acknowledgement that I'm there. They notice me. They WANT to serve me, and I will be served.

And it would be nice if it was done with a smile too.

What about you? Any horror stories you want to share about the lack of customer service I'm talking about? Come on. Make me feel better. It's not just me, is it?

Until next time...


Liz.. said...

ohh great post! I don't know why, but i always get the person who hates their job and really doesn't want to be there ALWAYS it is a rarity for me to get decent customer service. I've learnt to deal with this very maturely i am overly nice (to make them feel bad for their lack of niceness) smile alot and say 'thank you' at the end in a voice that screams 'im not happy!'.

One situation which comes to mind is when my dad and i went out to lunch at a really nice restaurant close to where i live when we asked for the cheque (check?) the waitress said nothing and just kind of threw it onto our table. I looked over the cheque to find it wasnt ours, i notified the waitress of this and she sighed LOUDLY and said 'oh are you sure' AGH! i proceeded to tell her that yes im sure 2 people didnt order 6 meals collectiveley, she took it back brought back another cheque and without saying anything just walked away - we didnt know if everything was right or what

I have a casual job at the cinemas and i always try to be nice, i go out of my way for customers and would never be as rude as some of the people i've come across, maybe we can just learn from these peoples mistakes

- sorry for long comment this topic really gets me going!!

Ami said...

Oh you know I love a good rant, hence Puff Pieces!! Great rant, and perfectly said! My horror story/stories was actually to do with the wedding industry. When we were organising the wedding earlier this year I was amazed at the crap customer service you get in the wedding industry considering how much money you're paying them. I had the caterer not turn up for our taste test. And never got an apology. Then when I requested a site meeting with the people setting up our ceremony they said NO. I said well how the hell are you supposed to know how we want it said up. Response: oh yeah good idea. Ugh.

So yes I agree with everything you said! If you can't get simple nice friendly service to get a cup of tea, then what hope is there for anything else.

Sorry, rant over! Great post! x

jessica said...

I had such a bad experience with a Bobbi Brown make up girl and I've never bought their cosmetics again

Anonymous said...

I concur. I worked at Diamaru on the Lancome counter and the customer was always right and good service was a priority. It's really not that hard to at least be polite. Bad customer service drives me nuts.

Anonymous said...

Oops sorry, that last comment was from me.

Tara (Waffling Along)

Nomie said...

Oh..the 'service' industry... don't get me started... how about the woman who took out order, with out a word, then decided to let us know there was a 20 minute wait... on chips. Or the mumbling teens who think chatting to their non paying, non customer friends is more important than serving customers.... ohhhh and the wait in the 'cue here' line for shoe service.... not that they serve you, just eventually take your shoe and come back with the wrong pair and dump the box at your feet mumbling 'this is all we have' Ok... shall stop... or my comment willl be longer than your post!

april said...

This is why I love where I live now - I am used to cities - big ones, and recently a even bigger one where I got very used to the bored stares and angry waitresses, and then I moved here - smaller city, but no less a city, and everyone is NICE (with minimal exceptions), I am in constant shock that I can walk into a cafe and the person behind the counter not only speaks to you but apologises if they can't serve you straight away, or clothes shops where they want to discuss life with you - thoughtful taxi drivers, and helpful tradespeople - I am not used to this at all...but I suppose in a smaller community its less busy and people know that word of mouth is very important :)