Is customer service gone?

How many times have you called about a bill issue, or question on some service you are involved in and had endless prompts with never speaking to a live human being? Home many times has the service hung up on you after navigating through the maze of selections. Where has customer service gone?

In today’s economy cutting cost is what is the name of the game. Obamacare, increased taxes, outsourcing, there are many reasons why a company looks to automate or eliminate customer service. It is not only limited to online or phone service. How many times have you gotten customer no service at a retail store. For instance, I walk into Menards to get parts for my latest project and almost no employees will make eye contact let alone ask if you need anything. Up at the counter and most seem like that are still in high school. Go to Walmart and there is virtually no service, and one associate told me not his department and kept walking. Are we really that desperate to buy items we will allow ourselves to be treated this way?

On the other hand, while I may pay more in some cases, I cannot walk around for more than 5 min without someone asking me if they can help me with anything. This is exactly why if I am uncertain about a product, or project, I head for Home Depot to ask the staff. Almost every time they are very knowledgeable about the area they are working in. If they do not know, they call over someone who does. Why is there such a difference?

When at a local grocery store I had to endure a lengthy conversation between the two cashiers and baggers about who was doing what on the weekend and what they thought of the other people going. While I don’t expect these people to be robots, I really am not interested in their personal lives. On the other hand, when I shop at GFS (Gordon’s Food Service) it is again like home depot. Every associate working in the store asks if they can assist me or help me find anything. Again, another reason why I spend my money here. I have even had an associate, in the freezer, in full winter gear, ask from behind the stocked shelves if he could help me locate something.

When I was in retail some almost 20 years ago we had what I thought was a great program. The home office would reimburse a assistant manager, manager or third key, for gas and a meal if they would shop at another store from a different city. I was fortunate enough to be on both ends of this program. It gave me the ability to go to various cities in my state and even other states, and get a free meal at the same time. On the other end, if you got two positive reviews a month you got $20. If you store got all positive reviews your store got a credit for store merchandise of $50. It was cheaper for the company than paying a secret shopper, and gave us insight as to how other stores operated, and see how we were treated as customers.

In my own endeavors I strive to have that customer service what I would expect from other businesses. I believe repeat business is more important than making a single sale. Having customers leave happy, and telling others about the service they received, so that I could have other repeat customers. When a store I was affiliated with began to have questionable business practices, dishonest to customers, and poor customer service, it was time to separate myself and sever the relationship. Sometimes your reputation and name are all that you have. 10 positive reviews or opinions can be overshadowed by one negative. Why not shop where you are treated as a customer not as a ATM. What kind of business are you running? Do you view your customers as single point sales, or do you view them as lifetime return customers whom you want to, and have built relationships with, not just increased your bottom line.

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