Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Has Customer Service Been Lost?

Am I the only one that noticed a decline in customer service?  I have worked in the service industry for most of my life and know what its like to be on the other side of the counter.  But one of the first things that I learned was that you do not mess with your 'bread and butter'.  By giving mediocre or bad service you drive away your customers and potential new customers.  This also includes any extra sale that could be made, there have been times when I wanted to ask a question about a product but have been cut off.  With that said, it seems that everywhere I go as a customer the level of service has declined.  And it seems to transcend in all aspects of services needed from the clerk at the grocery store to the host at a diner. 

Now, I am not looking for pampering or getting my ass kissed, but a smile with some eye contact would be nice.  I usually know what I want and am not one to hold up a line.  If its my turn and haven't decided yet I step out of line and let others go.  For example there is a national coffee chain by my house that has a very busy drive thru and it seems every time I go there the employee taking the orders is very short and cuts off people.  So I asked myself, 'what has changed and why is this happening?'

So today it hit me.  It seems that with the way the economic trends and such that employers are asking their employees to do more and be more productive. They are either not replacing employees that have moved on or laid off some to cut corners.  It seems that the employees left have found them selves doing the job of two or more people.  These employers are going to burn out their good employees by not keeping their level of staff at where they can give good service.  The 'front line' employees seem to be getting the brunt of these business decisions and after over a year into this recession these once great employees are starting to crack.  I feel that this will hurt these businesses in the long run, because of the same economic crunch not only am I going to look for the best deal, depending on what I am shopping for, but I also find myself looking for the place that is going give me good service.

Because I only treat myself to one or two coffee drinks a week I stopped going to the one by my house.  Yes, that one is more convenient, its easier to get in and out and its on my way while heading to school and work.  But, I have been looping around to a competitors stand because they not only have good coffee but also smile, make eye contact and no matter how long the line do not show stress and do not appear to rush me.

So businesses, as it has been said before, pick two when deciding about your 'front line' employees:

Quality, Quantity or Cost.

The one that is left over will be what you sacrifice.  For example if you pick Quantity or fast service and Cost at a low price you will have low Quality service and drive away your customer base and have a very hard time getting them back and attracting new customers.  Make this choice wisely and you will sustain your business during lean times as well as reap the rewards during the feast times.