What has happened to Customer Service?

Source: via Attila on Pinterest

 

Today I was disappointed in the service that I received in a café in the Tuggeranong called the Borneo Café. Though the meal was nice, I was very disappointed in the Customer Service. It got me thinking about the level of customer service across the board. What has been your experience? Is customer service getting better or worse?

It was disappointing today, that when I got up to the counter to order the staff moved around the counter area and ignored me for what seemed like forever, while they fixed the printer, got more stock from out the back and got more change for the till. All this happened in front of me, without any eye contact, smile or acknowledgement. Not the best way to make a customer fell important.

However, it got me thinking about what makes for good customer service? So, I wrote an article called “Has the Art of Customer Service been Lost?” I am interested in knowing what you think about Customer Service. Is it a lost art? Or is it alive and well out there?

About Attila Ovari

Attila Ovari is an Entrepreneur that loves life and is passionate about adventure. Attila Ovari writes, speaks and coaches to inspire others to better themselves through following their passions and chasing their dreams. He has developed his passions of inspiration, leadership and strategy into strengths through his businesses and community pursuits.

Posted on Wednesday, 18 Jul 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. I’ve found customer service in Japan to be a breathe of fresh air. Other cultures (like ours in Australia) would do well to learn a thing or two from them. Km*

    http://www.travelphotographyblog.wordress.com

  2. My Job is heavily reliant on providing the best customer service experience, and in so doing I find myself highly critical of customer service. If I have a bad experience somewhere I will usually give the place a second chance, but if they fail on that second chance I always make sure to post my experience on facebook to discourage any business and I never return for at least a year.
    I don’t care if someone has had a bad day, or if they’re tired or had something recently happen. If they can’t provide good service, go home. I always have these issues at work, but I can still put on the act and provide an excellent service. I expect the same from others. Sadly, I find more and more people lacking in this area.

    So, after that rant, thanks for stopping by and following my blog!

    Seth.

    • Seth, Thanks for your comments…. I agree that if your not in the right head space then you should not play…. If I am not in the right frame of mind I will not answer my phone.

  3. I was sure I left a comment here……..but don’t see it.
    That’s what happens when you just can’t keep track of whom you are tracking.

    I would be very poor at providing customer service. 🙁

    • lol….. It is all good, we all have our ups and downs. As long as we have the right attitude and also ensure that we have systems in place to ensure we deliver great customer service

  4. Customer service is a lost art these days. In many transactions you have to be the navigator of your own customer service, especially when you are trying to remedy an error. Banks are more interested in cross-selling services than serving your needs, for example. Good post.

  5. True Customer Service is a lost art. I admit, I’ve experience better customer service here in Texas than in most other places. Southern Hospitality is real and does exist, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

    There is a small-town retstraunt in Katy, TX called Fazoli’s and they have a version of these rules (found on Simply Stephen’s – http://www.vredvoice.com/the-12-golden-rules-of-customer-service.html- blog) posted in their store:

    12 Golden Rules of Customer Service

    Rule #1 – the customer is always right

    Rule #2 – if the customer is wrong, refer to rule #1

    Rule #3 – the customer is always a priority – handle complaints, concerns and disputes immediately

    Rule #4 – never argue with a customer

    Rule #5 – never make excuses or pass the buck

    Rule #6 – be flexible – customers do not always know what they want and are not all the same

    Rule #7 – show real respect and treat your customer how you would want to be treated

    Rule #8 – be personal, sincere and friendly at all times

    Rule #9 – always remain one step ahead of your customer by predicting future & current needs

    Rule #10 – keep all your promises

    Rule #11 – deliver your product or service on time or ahead of time

    Rule #12 – exceed your customer’s expectations and always go the extra mile

    They really live/work by these rules at Fazoli’s and I LOVE visiting this place (even if it’s just for the hot breadsticks they serve you as soon as you walk through the door!) They are always packed so obviously, good customer service pays.

    Great topic!

  6. Over the past couple of weeks I have had experiences that tell me Good customer service is alive and well and living in Wellington NZ. firstly I had a bag damaged on a Virgin Australia flight. the helpful person to whom I spoke arranged for the bag to be picked up and delivered back again once it was repaired. I bought an item over the internet and when it arrived it wasn’t up to expectations, a telephone call to the company produced a prepaid courier label for me to return the goods and finally, I inherited an oven when I bought the property 2 years ago. The marking showing the function had rubbed off the control knob, Again a telephone call and a replacement was sent immediately. None of these cost me anything and as you can imagine, I now tell everybody about this fantastic service.
    And thank you for subscribing to my blog.

  7. Thanks for following my blog, Attila. I believe Customer Service may be a victim of the entitlement mindset. Some of the poor service may be caused by someone having a bad day, but there is such a prevalence of it, that I tend to think it’s dying out. Especially in the areas of Utility companies, phone companies, etc. The larger the concern, the less contact you get with an actual person. Automated answering everywhere.

  8. If I’m at a restaurant and the service is been subpar, I try to consider a couple of things first before making a judgment: Does the server have too many tables to handle adequately? In other words, has management left the restaurant understaffed, meaning servers are run ragged with little time for the extra flourish here or there that dfferentiates bad service from good? Also, is the server trying, but their efforts are hurt by the food being improperly prepared, rude customers elsewhere taking up an inordinate amount of time, etc.? If so, I cut them a break.

    I’ve notieced at fast food operations, however, a definite lack of attention to detail in recent years, along with an I-just-don’t-care attitude. It’s increasingly prevelant, which is surprising, given the economy.

  9. After working in a mom and pop for so many years I’ve realized that customer service has become what sets most independent businesses apart from big businesses. Since independent businesses can’t offer the same low prices as corporate run they have to offer something unique like a “brand” or amazing customer service. Of course, this is not an absolute. Some big businesses offer great customer service and I know that some places, particularly those places that would consider themselves “hip” in my town, offer poor customer service as part of the experience. Want to come and be seen in the cool coffee shop? Well, you’ll be ignored by the hipster working behind the counter–It’s all rolled into the cost of your $5 latte. No joke.

  10. You have hit on one of my pet peeves. Many days I feel as if good customer service seems to be the Dodo of industry … extinct; then, I get a pleasant surprise once and a while that gives me hope.

  11. It’s a lost art. It is really rare for me to find good customer service these days. SO much so, that when I do find it, I am literally shocked. But the sad thing is that good customer service is not supposed to be a shocker, its supposed to be the norm. Our society is too engrossed with self to know how to serve someone other than self. At least that is what I am finding.

  12. Customer service absolutely is a dying art. I actually wrote a post on this a while back. I spent several years in customer service development and I still don’t understand it. To a great extent, I feel that people lack an understanding of the big picture and their place in it, and so they can’t successfully interact with their customers.

  13. For any business to thrive and grow their customer service needs to be up and beyond any other similar business. Sorry for your bad experience.

  14. You are the second blogger to write about this.I have also had very bad customer service experiences and I understand it may not be the job you envision for yourself but at least be good at it. The more you make the customer feel important, th e bigger the tip. I do feel though that customer service is a thing of the past.

  15. I guess in this case it boils down to whether or not the service was going to be rewarded. One might expect a better service if the provider was hoping for a nice tip.Since staff at the counter doesn’t get tips one cannot buy good service out of them. In the absence of this incentive, good service can only be expected if it is woven into the company’s culture and stressed enough. Nonetheless, there are still a lot many great employees out there who offer the best service regardless of any incentive…i suggest giving the benefit of doubt to the large majority of staff that is providing good service.

  16. Good article and some useful points to always remember. I came up through a retail background and I definitely think training is missing these days. Good training isn’t just about telling staff what they should do, it’s about encouraging an active role and remembering you’re dealing with people. Sadly, I just don’t think that level of caring is there for many companies for customer facing roles, although I have seen a vast improvement in online customer care from some places compared to ten years ago.

  17. Customer service is still alive and out there! As a bartender/waitress my job consists of nothing but customer service, but I think that the kind of service I receive at other places varies greatly depending on certain factors. As an American/New Yorker places where people are working for tips, tend to give better service, especially if they’re expecting a 20% tip (pretty much a standard in New York at this point). At other places that don’t revolve around tips or commission I’ve noticed it has to do more with whether or not the person takes pride in the place they work in and wants to generate repeat business. AKA Mom and Pop shop = good service, McDonalds, no customer service haha

  18. It’s the same price to be nice as it is to be nasty, right? So I always choose nice! I talk about this on my blog, too!
    Thanks for a great post!
    Diana Bletter
    http://www.thebestchapter.com

  19. It is nothing like cooking at home if you can. I understand that it is nice to be served sometimes, but not like that. Those people who give bad service don’t give a hootie hoot about their jobs. It is a shame. You should take pride in whatever you do.

  20. Great question. Here in America, I’ve noticed a few resturants trying to improve their service but it’s motivated by a weakned economy where every customer is more important than ever before. We’ve got it backwards. We’re motivated by the income rather than caring for the customer and allowing their satisfaction to create repeat business, which leads to increased income. I actually avoid certain resturants in my town that are less expensive but have poor service. I will pay more to be treated well.

  21. people have lost the definition of the word, commitment

  22. There is more to serving tables than meets the eye…I did that for years while being a pub tender to get myself through college after my children were grown to keep tuition costs down. I was a trainer of serving staff and there were some who got it and some who were brain dead to the concept. They went through the motions for the money. Then were jealous of the ones who actually got it and were making money hand over fist for great service and satisfaction. It is not a dying art it is just an art that needs a rethink and some better trainers.

  23. Hi Attila,

    Sadly, great, memorable customer service experiences seem to be hard to come by. Sometimes, it’s not that it’s outright bad service, it’s just indifferent service.

    There are lots of theories and ideas as to why that is so. Ultimately, I believe it comes down to the owner’s or manager’s committment to great service. If they treat their employees to amazing, personalized customer service, they increase the odds that their employees will turn around and provide that same level of service to the paying customers. If they clearly outline what great service looks and sounds like, they increase the odds. If they recognize and reward great service, they increase the odds.

    And of course, they’ve got to hire right. Hiring in the service industry is tough .. turn-over is high, especially in entry-level positions, so I think that sometimes, managers are just happy if a warm body is there to open, close, restock, whatever. Unfortunately, that warm body is representing the business and the brand so it’s really important to make sure that the right message is being sent.

    • Hi Laurie,

      Thank you for your comments. I like the way you captured the topic. Good customer service has to be a priority from the top down. As a leader and manager I have always seen my role to support front line staff, as they are what the company sees. Too many times I see this reversed as leaders and managers think that front line staff are there to support them. Thank you for your feedback

      Attila

  24. I am unsure where you are geographically but I believe, poor customer service stems from dissatisfaction from work. I have seen many poor service but if you were to approach these very same person out at the back or corner where they seem disgruntled or exhausted and have a chat with them, you will find that they actually have a more humane side to them. The ones I spoke to apologise and blame of job dissatisfaction or matters of life. Sometimes, it’s hard to bite your tongue from being curt when told stories of their hardship (ie. poor family back in 3rd world country hence in Singapore to make a better living but living in an apartment of 9 foreigners, poor pay (not able to save) and the list goes on).

    But I do agree with you, customer service is a form of art. Not many can undertake this very well.

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