Customer Service…And The Customer

I often complain about customer service or the lack thereof. I’m not alone, because everyone of us has a customer service horror story to share. I wrote about holiday customer service and I’ve put corporate America that I am test-driving customer service before purchasing their goods or services.

I have always been quick to blame the customer service person for the unpleasant experience. Now I am having second thoughts.

Last week I went through a McDonald’s drive-thru for my unsweetened iced tea with lemon that they sell for a dollar. I love iced tea. It’s hard to get good brewed tea. Getting great tea for a buck is icing on the cake. I make sure the people taking my order and taking my money know I am appreciative. I say, “please” and “thank you.” I realize that people working at fast food restaurants aren’t making a lot of money, are under pressure to perform in a timely manner, and go home smelling like grease. I don’t want them to hate me for being an annoying customer.

But last week when I said “please” and “thank you” with an added “have a nice day,” the woman stop in mid-return of my money and said, “wow, a nice customer.” I asked her what she meant, and she told me that hardly anyone says anything nice. Ever.

Which makes me think that we are a bunch of rude people! Honestly, what were the very first things we were taught as children and that we, hopefully, taught our own children? How to say “please” and “thank you.” How to be appreciative of the things people do for us. Whether it’s handing over the keys to our new Camaro (I really want one of those!) or a cup of perfectly brewed iced tea, we should be appreciative. Someone other than ourselves did this for us.

Sure, the McDonald’s person didn’t do it specifically for you. But you are benefitting from their actions. Whether you’re flying through the restaurant for a drink or dinner for your entire family, someone is making it easy on you. They deserve a nice “please” and “thank you” and maybe a compliment or two on something.

Maybe, just maybe, when we do something like this they will pass on the niceness to someone else in line and we can start a chain of pleasantness. We could end the cycle of snarliness that spreads from customer to worker and back.

Yesterday a track coach came to tell me a local reporter had very nice things to say about me. Since our exchange had been two quick emails–one letting him know he spelled Jeremy’s last name wrong and another acknowledging his apology–I was confused. The coach told me that the reporter was amazed that I hadn’t been mean. Because so many other people are mean when they contact him about similar things.

Why would I be mean to someone who made a mistake? Our last name is hard to misspell. I felt bad enough bringing it to his attention without berating him at the same time. The only reason I really said anything was because the story was about Jeremy setting a new state record with the shot put.

I’m not a saint. I am not always Susie Super Customer. If I get bad service and am in a bad mood, I will give as good as I get. Mostly, though, I just want people to understand that I am appreciative of what they are doing for me. It’s hard to live a grateful life if you can’t appreciate the people around you making that life possible.

I hope that makes everyone–customer and customer service alike–think before their next interaction.


3 thoughts on “Customer Service…And The Customer

  1. I really do think that as a society we have become rude to each other. When people are mean and nasty to me, I want to treat them the same way back. I do find that when I say “please” and “thank you” I usually get a good response in return. It’s such a simple thing to do to have respect and manners with each other, it’s a shame more people don’t.

      • Yes, it starts at home, but it also is a matter of children picking up how their parents are behaving. I really try to be “nice” to people when the kids are around. Not to say that I’m not nice other times (well, most times) but I am always complimented on how well mannered my girls are. I am always reminding them to say please and thank you and I think if you say it often enough then it becomes a habit. I think too many parents today don’t take the time to teach their children basic manners.

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