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Friday, September 5, 2008

Customer servile

As my last post earlier this week provoked a repsonse, I thought I would return to it. Clearly my suggestion that the American way of service is to be aspired to was too much for Kevin who,

"couldn't think of anything worse than an american telling me the value of service"

Interestingly, Lucy Kellaway whose article originally prompted my thoughts had a follow up in which she experienced some great service (The pen is mightier than high-tech gadgets). So as Zine and Zein highlighted in their comments, I was generalising and my suggested course would probably not sell to them.

I had the additional thought that the internet might be responsbile for an overall decline in customer service, in the same way that text messaging has destroyed conversation. In that it has moved human beings further apart and therefore further away from an immediate reaction to what thay say or think. Being face to face with someone tends to temper most extremes of communication (think about how often you shout expletives after you have hung up the phone or walked out the door).

But then I immediately challenge myself that this could just be further evidence of myself getting older and heading towards the inevitable day when I moan in exasperation about, "The youth of today!!" (Incidentally you can shoot me when I start doing this). The Internet is not bad in and of itself. The point is what is facilitates (see Michael Wesch's original film "The Machine is Us" for more on this) and it should facilitate even better service.

Maybe it is the fact that 25% of us are unhappy in our jobs and a third of us do not feel engaged. The people from whom I have had the best customer service are the people who seem to care or show an interest, whether in the UK, the USA or elsewhere. Those who feel they are wage slaves are unlikely ever to serve the customer genuinely.

As to whether this is the responsibility of the employee to move to a job that they enjoy and fell valued in or the employer to make the employee feel valued and content, I fear the debate will never end.

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