Is customer service a thing of the past?

Published 8:23 pm Friday, May 24, 2019


Contributing columnist

I can remember many years ago when I was a young adult and I got my first job in a grocery store, it was drilled into our heads that the customer came first. We were there to make sure the customer found everything they needed to buy, and also to give them a pleasant experience coming to our store. I remember the manager telling us that the customer doesn’t have to shop here. There are other stores in town. We have to make them want to shop here. Those lessons on how to treat people have never left me and I have carried those skills and applied them to other jobs in other fields that I have held over the years. Now, decades after I first learned these lessons — I always look for these traits in the places that I buy from and will drive out of my way to support the stores that offer excellent customer service.

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I often listen to the mumblings of people around me while waiting in line at the cashier to check out. I’m standing there reading magazine covers about the royal family, or what poor celebrity is getting divorced this week and I always hear someone behind me complain about the wait. Even though every cashier they have on duty may be working as fast as they can, it still is not good enough because we may be delayed in getting home to watch the beginning of Jeopardy and we just can’t have that. Lord help the employee that happens to walk by while the grumbling is going on. Even though they may not even be trained to operate a cash register, they will still get more evil stares than if they were wearing a Duke T-shirt.  To be fair, it’s getting very hard to find good customer service these days. It’s not uncommon to walk up to a customer service desk and find several employees talking and you have to wait until they finish telling the story about whatever hilarious thing their kid did last night. Ironic that this happens at the customer service desk of all places. Another common occurrence is walking into a big box store and needing some help locating an item. You could swear that the great zombie apocalypse has occurred, because there is not an employee anywhere around and you find yourself alone surrounded in a retail jungle forced to fend for yourself.

It seems that some of the worst offenders on customer service are fast food restaurants. When I walk up to the counter to give my order I see a teenager standing there waiting impatiently.  I try to make sense of the menu board and finally give my order, pay and then subjected to the worst customer service error ever when I get my bills handed to me first and the change placed on top. The change then slides off and scatters across the ground. I would much rather have the change first, let me put it away and then hand me the bills. So after I pick my change up off the floor,  I stand waiting patiently for my order to be collected and whistling a Barry Manilow tune along with the overhead speakers. I am then handed my bag of food with no thank you, no come again and they just walk away. I wonder to myself why I even go there. I take a bite of food and then I remember and all is forgotten.

Jack Godbey is a resident of Danville. He is a published author and Historian. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Physical Science.