Customer Service or Customer Frustration?

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Note: I know this topic has been done probably around a million times, but I just want to add my two cents.

I remember when I was 15 years old and I worked my first “real” job as a part-time waiter.  No, not a restaurant, but at a retirement home.   I will admit that at the time, I was very shy and barely allowed people who I did not know get close to me.  However, as time went by (approximately two and a half years later), I realized that I can make working at my job enjoyable along with providing good customer service to those who I served.  I got the chance to learn about other people’s lives, which made me more comfortable to express my life to them in return.  I now get a rewarding feeling being about to help out other people, whether it is at the job or away from the job.  I want people to feel that their experience was worth it.

I left the retirement home and my job serving retirees a couple of years ago to pursue my career in Information Technology.  As I start going to a lot of different places, I noticed that there is usually one constant thing lacking each and every time: customer service.  What do I mean by this?   I mean the amount of workers who tend to give you funny looks anytime you ask them a question regarding their products.  I mean the amount of workers who take an appalling amount of time to serve you, dragging their feet like they don’t have other customers waiting in line.  I mean the workers who can’t even at least say “thank you” or “have a nice day” as you are able to leave.  I can’t recall all the times where I would say either one of these two things, and I would get tight-lipped expressions in return.

In my personal experiences, without making a generalized statement, I noticed that most of the poor customer service has come from the younger crowd: teenagers and even young adults.  Even as I write this blog, I tend to think to myself:  Why does the quality of customer service seem to differentiate between different age groups?  Is it the lack of face-to-face interaction that younger people seem to suffer from compared to their elders?  Is it the lack of training provided by the employer?  Is it the person in general?  There are many different factors that can be attributed to customer service, or the lack of.

One thing that I will say in defense of customer service is that there are some out-of-line customers who seem to mess it up for the rest of the customers.  One quote that I will always live by is, “Treat people how you want to be treated.”  If you tend to treat the employee like dirt, well expect to get treated like dirt in return.  I was taught that no matter how out of line the customer is, still treat the customer with respect because it’s still the customer.  Even in the case of the belligerent customer, it’s still unprofessional to provide bad service in return.  However, don’t be that customer that sends the employee over their tolerance threshold.

I understand that some employees, no matter the age, gender, or race, do not interact with people well at all.  In response to this, those employees must make one of  two decisions:  either improve their soft skills or find another job where customer service is not salient.  Well, guess what the problem with that is?  Many companies are putting an emphasis on customer service going into 2010.  On a general basis, bad customer service = unhappy customer = loss of company profit and reputation.  With jobs the way they are now, employees with lacking customer skills better improve, or risk losing their own job in the process to someone who can provide positive customer interaction.