Bucking the Trend in Company Culture

May 19th, 2009 by Ann

A recent shopping trip to one of those big box stores got me thinking about customer service or the lack thereof in our culture these days. The “big” stores are places where the customer experience really isn’t high on anyone’s priority list - the store’s or the customer’s. It’s all about price. So, it’s really not too surprising that it is impossible to find an employee who might answer a question or offer some assistance while you’re shopping. Basically, you’re on your own and you just go there for some of the things you might need in large quantities and get out as quickly as you can.

The check-out experience is usually pretty ho-hum, of course. It really has to be a challenging job to stand at the register, scanning thousands of things a day, dealing with folks who really don’t want to even be there and are zombied out because the experience has been so overwhelming. However, my  check-out experience on this particular trip was truly rewarding: the checker actually looked me in the eye, asked me how I was, called me by name (it was on my membership card), and wished me a happy  weekend.

Wanting to let her employer know about my positive experience and hoping he/she would pass along my appreciation to the checker, I went to the company’s website to email my comments. But let me tell you, it was quite a challenge to find the right link and I’m not altogether sure that my compliments will even make it to her - which is what got me thinking about our society’s business culture these days.

It sometimes seems that customer service just doesn’t matter anymore. It’s as if the way we treat our customers, the way we treat employees, the way we expect to be treated as customers, and the way we expect to be treated as employees has changed dramatically…and not for the better. More and more, it’s all about price. Customers are becoming acclimated to being treated like…like…nothing, while at the same time, the “culture” of a company often doesn’t include the importance of friendliness, helpfulness, and graciousness.

So, should her employer not pass along my comments, my thanks go out to Irma N. (her name’s on my receipt). Thank you for making a humdrum shopping trip end on such a pleasant note and for sending me out the door in a better mood than when I entered.  And thank you to every single person behind every single counter who deals with all of us every day.

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