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GAIL WHITE There is no excuse for poor customer service



Published: Fri, August 2, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Watch out, anyone who deals with the public! I'm not going to take poor service anymore!

For years, I have kept my mouth shut and put up with sub-standard service.

What I have found is that the less I expect, the less I get.

Well, I am raising my standards. I will use my clout as a consumer to demand proper service.

I'm not talking about a server who forgets a drink or a mechanic who is running behind.

I'm talking about lazy, inconsiderate, rude customer-service people who have forgotten -- or were never taught -- that they get paid to serve the customer.

The customer is not a nuisance or an inconvenience. The customer is the reason for the job.

My resolve to demand better service began with a pair of shoes.

Shoe service

I was standing in the checkout line at a local store. In front of me was a senior citizen returning a pair of shoes.

"I don't want them," she said.

The girl behind the counter sighed heavily.

"What's wrong with them?" she asked with a irritated tone of voice.

"Nothing," the woman responded shyly. "They just don't fit right."

"Do you want to get a different pair?" the girl continued with the same tone of irritation.

"No," the senior citizen said, visibly flustered. "I just want to return them."

The girl behind the counter rolled her eyes. "I need your receipt and your driver's license."

A problem arose with the return. The girl called a superior over to handle the matter.

She took the box of shoes, tossed them to the end of the counter and said, "You'll have to wait."

The woman was completely shaken. "I'm sorry," she uttered.

Customer is always right

By this time, my blood was boiling. I turned to the senior citizen and said, "The customer never says sorry."

As she turned toward me, a look of relief covered her face. This young girl-with-an-attitude behind the counter had caused her to forget she was the customer. The snot-nosed brat was supposed to be serving her.

"I know when I was young the customer was always right," the senior citizen said, regaining her composure.

"The customer still is," I said.

I had wanted to slap the brat behind the counter, but our words hit her hard instead. Immediately, she dropped her attitude and smiled.

Had she never been taught the golden rule of customer service?

Was she simply having a bad day?

I doesn't matter. I am a customer and the ignorance or mood of the person servicing me will not become a punishment to me.

Consumer rights

I will not yell and cause a scene to make my point. I will exercise my consumer rights with class and dignity -- the same way I expect to be treated.

If an establishment or individual does not change, I will take my consumer dollars and give them to a business that will serve me.

My bank has excellent service. The women at the drive-through smile and greet me by name.

The service I receive from another branch of my bank is quite different.

I have waited more than 10 minutes to be served at the drive-through.

After one excruciatingly long wait, I expressed to the teller my unhappiness.

"If there are not enough people to work the drive-through, perhaps there shouldn't be a drive-through," I suggested.

"We agree," she responded kindly. Her frustration was the same as mine.

I used my consumer clout to contact the branch manager. I told him the same complaint he had heard from his tellers.

Employees can only complain. I can take my money elsewhere.

By exercising my consumer status, I can actually make the workplace better for someone else.

It is my job as a consumer to demand good customer service.

I expect a smile and a thank you -- and I expect it for the senior citizen in front of me as well.

gwhite@vindy.com




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