Customer Service Ain't What It Used To Be

By Cathy Thurber

. In the last week I have been to two different places that have left me standing, looking around in shock as to the lack of service.  People were left standing in a long line waiting, even when there were a couple of workers who were obviously just having a discussion on their favorite celebrities.  They could have opened up one or two checkout lines to move the customers quickly and efficiently out.  At another store there were a couple of customers that required help but never received it because the employee was talking to a friend and completely ignoring anybody else in the area.  Oh, and she was doing this while standing behind the “Customer Service” desk.

They (whoever “they” are) say that we are becoming a country that is forgetting our manners.  If this week is indicative of other’s experiences elsewhere in the USA, then I would have to agree.  Good manners = Customer Service.  Seriously.  That’s what the basis of customer service is….good manners.  So, let’s have a short lesson on manners, shall we?

  1. Practice Basic Courtesy. Yes, using “please” and “thank you” while dealing with customers is important.  It shows respect towards that person.  And to take it a step further, try using the words “May I” when you ask that customer a question.  After all, you are here to help them.
  2. Speak politely to those around you – even other employees. This is especially true when you are in a work environment where you are surrounded by customers.  It is NEVER acceptable to swear.  Let me repeat that…it is NEVER acceptable to swear.  In fact, take out all vulgar language from your vocabulary when you are dealing with a customer.   And unless you are back in the break room where there are no customers around, don’t use vulgarity in your conversations with other employees.  Trust me when I say, anyone can overhear that conversation.
  3. Listen to your customer. Don’t just nod and smile.  Actually listen so that you can have a helpful reply.  This includes not interrupting or overriding the person while he or she is speaking.
  4. Never take your bad day out on somebody else. I know this isn’t exactly a “good manner” but it’s something worth bringing up.  In a customer service position, you are setting an example for your organization.  Plus, you never know who you are talking to….and who they may know.  What if the person you just sneered at is the President of the College – and you work in their bookstore?

Practice these simple manners and you will make your customers feel that they made the right decision to work with you.  Not only that, the other employees may follow your lead and help create a dynamic workplace where people want to shop.  And hey, your Mom would be proud of you for remembering what she taught you!

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