“Can I get pickles on my sandwich?” I asked as my stomach growled. I was at the opening of a new restaurant in Shakopee. I was hungry.
The employee with a southern twang who I later found out was the manager brashly replied, “Ummmm, that’s not my station. But you know what I wish? I wish I could hold up a sign that reads do not ask me for any sides on your sandwich. Why do people think I do the sides?”
Now, I try to find humor in everything, but messing with me while I’m hungry, is a no no. Plus, the slow service and long line tested my patience. I was not amused. Actually, I was annoyed and pictured myself jumping the counter and showing him how a simple smile and a “how may I help you” does make a difference.
Sadly, he treated all his customers this way. He even shared a story with my husband. A hungry couple had entered his restaurant earlier and he told them they were closed. The restaurant was obviously open and the customers were clearly embarrassed and then upset. They took their business elsewhere and so have I.
BBQ and pickles aside, I have been noticing a frightening trend - poor customer service is popping up all over. And I’m not sure why. Do you? With the economy the way it is, shouldn’t employers and employees be raising the bar to keep their customers happy? I completely understand the pressures employees are feeling these days. More responsibilities have been dumped on everyone’s plates to keep costs down and business afloat. Employees are doing more than they ever signed up for but the truth is there is nobody else to pick up the pieces and the work has to be done. Generally speaking, not only employees, even people outside the workplace, need to remember first impressions are lasting.
Below is a list of some of my most recent findings. There are many, but these are a few that have stood out. Maybe you have experienced similar situations:
The lazy one
Maybe I have high expectations, but when I’m paying someone money for their services, I anticipate I will receive the best. Not half. I’ve been seeing this more and more. People are turning the tables and asking me, the paying customer, to “deal” or to finish it myself. They don’t know how to do it and aren’t willing to learn. We are all short on time these days, but we are all hungry for work too. It only takes a minute to find someone else.
My discovery – Dedication DOES shine through. 1. You can’t hide a dedicated employee. 2. You can’t fake dedication.
This person likes to go with the flow. They always do things because that’s the way they have always been done. They don’t exceed expectations because they quite don’t know how.
My discovery – Assertiveness and initiative are priceless and communicates confidence. These people seem to keep climbing the ladder because they are curious what’s at the top.
This person enjoys talking very much. They talk so much they forget to listen. People start to avoid them. People even start to develop an anxiety towards the relationship. Unfortunately the talker forgets the needs and wants of the other party and forges ahead based on their desires. By the time they turn around, there is nobody there.
My discovery – Sometimes listening is better than talking. If you don’t listen, you don’t really care (at least that’s what it feels like).
I have encountered some great customer service recently too. Regrettably I also remember the bad, but there have been several good ones that have definitely stood out. It doesn’t take much!
The printer who threw in a cookie or two when I placed an order
The cashier who honored an expired coupon because she could empathize with a busy schedule
The manager who gave me a free burrito because she felt I waited in line too long
The drive-thru employee who told me to make it a good day with the warmest smile
The vendor who always asks me what else they can do for me
Where have you encountered bad customer service in your daily life? How did you handle it?
Christie Koester is a Marketing and Communi- cations Manager and a Graphic/Web Designer in Eagan, Minn. She is also a freelance designer and writer and has written several articles for the Shakopee Valley News and KSTP as a community reporter. Koester is writing her first novel. | Follow Christie on Twitter at @christiekoester or check out her personal blog.
I have a confession to make. I’m normally a happy person, but for some reason I was crabby and a big ol’ mope most of January. First I chalked it up to the cold, constant darkness and unfavorable weather.*