I have to be careful here. I have friends who are important to me who could possibly read the following rant and could also possibly be offended by the intellectual content within. (I realize that ‘intellectual’ may be a stretch, but I like the phrase) Over the past few months, I have been plagued by poor customer service across several different industries … different service industries, and I can hold my tongue no longer.
A couple of years ago (October 2009) I posted a LMC on the subject of courtesy, it’s titled Tips for the Modern Traveler (Be Nice!). At the time, my sentiments were heartfelt and sincere. I was inspired to write the Chronicle because of the attitude I observed from the traveling elite towards the hard working folks on the service side of the travel industry…gate agents, hotel clerks, flight attendants, etc. In a nutshell, I delivered a scathing lecture on why nobody working at a counter in an airport or hotel really cares about how many times the privileged traveler stayed in a particular hotel chain last year, or how many gazillion miles that same traveler has with their chosen airline. What they care about is maintaining their dignity in a shitty job. But when I wrote that story I was only 50 years old, that was a long time ago and things have changed. And I wasn’t pissed off then.
Little boys grow up, and if you are an observant little boy (like me) you learn things, and hopefully, after learning these things, you evolve. I’m 52 now, so I have a lot more experience and therefore I’m a little bit wiser, smarter, or evolved. Life has thrown me a few curves and surprises in that time frame; my cheese has been moved, but I’m in touch with the universe and I have adjusted. I’ll admit that I didn’t see the Peyton Manning thing coming, and I have no idea why the Republican party can’t produce a candidate that makes any sense at all, but I do have the service industries figured out, and I’m changing my tune: No more waltzing for these inconsiderate and pampered lazy ass jag offs; from now on it’s the effing Macarena.
Now sing and dance along with me…
If you are my Mortgage Loan Officer, I’m paying you. And if I’m paying you, YOU are running down the information that is within your reach. If there is no security or proprietary issue restricting your access…especially if it’s needed from third parties within your company; you do it…I’m paying you. If you are an attorney hired to handle the closing of my loan and there are special considerations that need to be deliberated and communicated to the mortgager, you are making the call. I have a job! It’s called “my job” and I need to do my job during working hours so I can earn the money that I’m paying you. Isn’t “your job” the handling of the transaction during my working hours? Please handle it. If I have to do your job, then it really isn’t “your job” anymore; it becomes my job. Why would I give you the money that my wife could be spending on shoes (or whatever it is she buys – love you Babe!) if I have to do the work?
If you are a gate agent with a large airline (and I won’t mention any names, but it rhymes with Schmelta) and you’re going to charge me $25 to check a bag, and your credit card reader isn’t working so I have to pay cash, but you don’t have change for my cash…if all these things are happening, it’s your problem, it’s not mine. I’m trying to give you my money – fix your card reader, or get some change.
No, I’m not going to the newsstand to get change for my twenty. You go. And when you come back I want you to smile, and I want you to thank me for my patience. After you thank me and show a little contrition for the inconvenience I have experienced, I want you to treat the elderly woman behind me with a little respect. She hasn’t flown in over 30 years…things have changed a little in that time. You do this every day; she does it every 30 years. She may be of a different culture and ethnicity than you, but she is a fellow human. Please…PLEASE, don’t do it because you’re in the customer service trade, don’t help this nervous and embarrassed woman because it’s your job and it’s what your company is paying you to do, what I (the consumer of your goods and services) am paying you to do; do it because it’s the human thing to do. You don’t even have to be nice, just be human.
Why are bartenders, waiters and waitresses the only consistently friendly and courteous service peeps anymore? I have the answer: Because they largely work on a commission basis. It’s called a 15 – 20 % tip in their industry, but it’s a commission. It’s a variable compensation program that is usually more favorable if their rate of service, expertise and sometimes, compassion is exemplary. Pretty simple concept.
When I rent a car, and you don’t give me the car I requested, you know – the car that I needed because I needed it and it’s the one I ordered; your response to me shouldn’t be, “So Mr. Largeman that 06 Fiesta isn’t going to work for you?”
“Can I ask why, Mr. Largeman?” They always call you Mr. or Ms. When they’re preparing you for the act. Mr. or Miss, or Mrs. is the service industry’s version of KY lube; it’s not a demonstration of respect.
“Because I ordered an Explorer, I need a Large car.”
“Did you know that the Fiesta gets better gas mileage, and it has a lower center of gravity so it’s less prone to what we call in the industry a ‘rollover’, if you have to make a sudden left turn… Mr. Largeman?”
“No, I didn’t know that. Luckily for me, I’ll only be making right turns on this trip. Say, could I get your name? I write a blog, and I like to tell stories about the people I meet and the experiences I have while I travel this great land of ours, and I would like to write about you.”
“Really? Me? That’s so cool! What have I done to deserve that?”
Thanks for reading, I feel better now.
The Large Man