Where did customer service go?

It’s been on my mind a lot lately about customer service. I’m not the type of person who goes into a store and keeps my head down so I don’t have to see or talk to anyone. When I go into a store, or any place of business in a small town really, I expect to be greeted with a smile and a cheerful “hi!” or “welcome!” And yes, it does have to be cheerful.

So it irritates me when I go into the only grocery store in town or the dollar store or wherever and am either not greeted at all or am greeted by someone who thinks they have the worst job in the world. Customer service is hard. I get that. I worked at Sonic for several years and sometimes it was hard to be cheerful either because I was having a bad day or the customer was being difficult, but I did it because it was my job.

If there was one thing my dad drilled into me, it was good work ethic and no matter if you were the CEO of a big company or a server in a restaurant, you did it with a cheerful disposition and to the best of your ability. He taught me that you didn’t work harder at a million dollar a year job than you do at a minimum wage job, and you always treat customers with respect, no matter what. Even if, in your opinion, they’re the scum of the earth.

It’s not that hard to be polite and cheerful, unless you’re just rotten to the core, and what I learned is that even when I was having a bad day, when I smiled at customers and they smiled back, it made my day better.

Do you realize that you literally get paid to be nice to people when you work in a customer service job? It doesn’t matter if it’s United, Sonic or Napa. And actually, even though I hate auto parts and tool stores and I feel like beating my husband with a wrench every time he drags me into one, I actually don’t mind going into Napa because I’m always greeted with a smile and a little bit of small talk. Every single one of their employees has treated me with respect, even when explaining how to attach windshield wipers or how to change a headlight because I’m a dummy when it comes to that stuff.

I also love the boutiques. Every time I go to one of those I’m always greeted with a cheerfulness that makes me grin.

We talk about how we all need to shop local and prices wouldn’t be so high if people would stop shopping out of town. But you know what? It’s not just the prices that drive people out of town. It’s the attitudes of the employees just as much or more so than the prices.


Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.

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