Friendly, old-fashioned customer service is a thing of the past. Boom, out the window, gone. It’s all but non-existent today.
If you’re a little older, then you may remember the old Texaco commercial: You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star.
He was the guy who would come out to fill up your car with gas. While it was pumping, he’d check your oil, wash off your window, and even check the air pressure in your tires if you asked him.
I’m from the south, but we traveled around the country growing up and these “perks” were fairly prevalent wherever we went.
Today more than ever, you’re lucky if the self-serve pump accepts your card and prints your receipt. No one there to check on you, no one to help if there’s a problem, and certainly no one to check your oil or tire pressure. And that type of customer service has transferred to virtually every business in America these days.
Future generations — even today’s generation — is unaware of the way many of us grew up. If you didn’t say “yes sir”, “thank you” or “excuse me” mom and dad let you know about it, one way or the other.
I was in New Orleans last week to be with my mom during a heart procedure. Back in the south, in other words, where friendliness, manners and customer service have a home, right?
Nope. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still some businesses and people who still live by that old-school mindset of treating people with respect and manners. At Ochsner Cardiac Center, for example, my 84-year-old mom was met with “Yes m’am” and the respect she is due. Her young nurse, Sanders Coley, was obviously brought up with that basic “training”.
At my hotel, though, it was a different story. I returned to my room late one evening to discover that the cleaning staff had apparently overlooked my room. The bed was unmade, the trash can was full, the dirty towels were gone, but no new towels were left. It really wasn’t a major problem, but I did mention it to the front desk agent the next morning. I just asked if they typically cleaned the rooms daily.
“Yeah,” she responded. “Why?”
When I told her about my experience, she shrugged her shoulders, looked back down at her computer and muttered: “Oh well, guess they didn’t then.” I stood there for a few seconds thinking perhaps she would address it further, but nope, she never looked up.
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” ~Roy T. Bennett
Sure, the person at the front desk may have been having a bad day. Another customer may have treated her improperly or she may even have been at the end of her shift and very tired.
Nonetheless, times aren’t what they used to be. That customer serviceless experience is more the norm today than it was 20 years ago when people were eager to assist, apologetic for not living up to your reasonable expectations and readily available to go the extra mile.
So, in an effort to pass along some tips to future generations, here are three things you can do this week to carry the tradition forward. You don’t have to own a business to provide customer service. You don’t have to be an executive. You don’t have to be rich, and you don’t have to be a respecter of persons.
If you come in contact with people every day, you can play.
- Be friendly, smile and make eye contact. It builds trust and engenders confidence and hope.
- Use the person’s name! Try it! You will be amazed at how this makes someone feel. It’s very personal, it makes you feel important, significant.
- Go the extra mile. Do something for someone this week that is unexpected, unanticipated and even unnecessary.