Is Customer Service a Lost Art?

From our friend, Christi Rippitoe:

Is there anybody out there who remembers when Customer Service was the norm? When you could talk to a human being and not a recording to describe what problem you needed addressed?  I do remember those days, but to be perfectly frank, the memories are fading at a very fast rate of speed.

Getting the oil changed in your vehicle should not be an all day affair.  In the “old days”, I could deliver my car, walk a couple of blocks to downtown, have a cup of coffee with a friend, walk back to the service station and – drum roll please – the car was ready to go.

Now, I call to make an appointment for an oil change/tire rotation.  I’m told to have the car at the station by 8:00 a.m.  Not a problem. However, when I call at noon to see if the car can be picked up, I find that they haven’t even started on the oil change! Finally, after being without a vehicle for a full eight hours, the car is ready to be picked up. In checking the invoice, I realize that there’s not an entry for the tire rotation. “Did you rotate the tires?” “Oh yeah, I’m sure we did.” When I point out the chalk marks on the tires are still in the same location as when the car was brought to them, then the reply is “Oh, I guess we ran out of time; we could possibly do that tomorrow?”  Another day with no wheels? I don’t think so.

And this brings me to a little hint to make sure your tires have been rotated. Before taking the car in, my husband marks each tire with its present location: “LF” – “RF”, etc. If those marks are still in the same place when the car is “finished”, it’s a pretty safe bet the tires haven’t been rotated!

GREAT TIP, Christi, on the tire rotation!  Now read on , if you dare….


Well it seems last week was a bad week for oil changes, tire rotations, and customer service.  I had a similar experience to Christi’s above, but mine was not the time factor issue.  Instead, the counter person charged me for a tire rotation after saying he would not. (I had new brakes put on, too, so the tires had to come off, regardless)  My husband ended up paying for the service, so I didn’t even notice the charge on our ticket until I arrived home and looked at the receipt.  I immediately called the counter person and said, “What do you mean you charged me $15.00 for that rotation after our discussion?!?”  At the end of the discussion he  said, “Okay ~ come back down here and I’ll give you ten bucks.”  He didn’t get that it was about how he should have treated me while I was there.  I explained that I would not be returning, he’d lost me as a customer.  A few minutes later, his manager called.  He’d over heard our conversation while I was in their store, and apologized for the charge, the service, and the mistreatment.  I thanked him for his phone call and courtesy.  An hour later, I received a phone call from one of the owners. (oh…did I mention this was after an e-mail written while talking to the manager?) The owner knew about customer service, desired it in each of his employees and stores, but knew they were not there yet.  He was sincere, he was apologetic, he is trying to build a business.  He sent me a check for $50, trying to right their wrong.

NOPE….this post is not about tire rotations and oil changes.  It’s about taking care of business.  Look me in the eye.  Act like you want my business for a lifetime.  Treat me like you would your mother. Smile.  Be Kind.  Be Sincere. Show Integrity.  Acknowledge my specific needs. Listen.

To those of you (which means EVERYBODY!!!) who at some time or another has had your day ruined because of something similar to the examples above.  Don’t just blog about it or fuss about it.  Act. If this is on a local level, talk to them first in person and give them the opportunity to right their wrong.  If that does not work, talk to a manager, owner, or send an e-mail.  No, you won’t always get positive results, but sometimes you will.

The bottom line is, customer service is slipping farther and farther away.  Corporations are cutting payroll budgets and employees are covering more than just their own position, in many cases.  This should not EVER, however, be an excuse for treating a person unfairly or rudely.  So please join me in this endeavor from here on out:  Let’s TEACH them customer service, instead of letting it be lost.  If you notice the mishap before you leave a place, address it right then.  Tell them what you expected and how they can correct it AND keep you as a satisfied customer.  ( try to do this in a stern, but kind manner)Let’s help bring customer service back to our businesses? Anybody wanna join me?

(p.s.  One other note, I do NOT want to disregard the many people who do still take care of their customers.  My hairdresser, appliance man, my Hobby Lobby manager ;), my grocery store clerk, and more.  When you get good service, tell them.  Thank them. Tell their boss, if applicable.  They, in return, will pay it forward.)

Now bring on the comments!!  There should be MANY on this subject!

Happy Wednesday!

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6 Responses to Is Customer Service a Lost Art?

  1. Kate says:

    So true! And thanks for the tip about marking the tires!! Found your blog from the blog hop at 36th Avenue!

  2. We very seldom eat out, but when we do, if we are given unusually good service by the waiter (waitress), we ask for their name and then on the way out the door, tell the Mgr. how great the service was. They are usually surprised because they tend to get the complaints and not the compliments. Also this is just my own personal gripe: when I thank someone for something or a service they have done for me, the usual response is “no problem”. When did “you are welcome” go out of style?

  3. Pam says:

    I was glad to read you mention also commenting when you receive good service. We recently stopped for fast food when out running errands. They were busy and service wasn’t the best. But the young man did acknowledge us and apologize while he continued to hustle, delivering food from previous orders. Too often these days people who work in the service industry avoid eye contact and act like you’re inconveniencing them by expecting any service. We made sure to let this young man know we really appreciated his acknowledgement and his good attitude and he in return appreciated a kind word in what had been a busy, stressfuly lunch rush. I agree, when you receive good service, let it be known as well as when service is poor.

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