Friday, April 12, 2024

Why Does Customer Service Suck All of a Sudden?

When did patronizing a private corporate business in America morph into an experience as unpleasant and off-putting as a visit to either the DMV or the local post office?

Excuse this personal rant. But I can’t but feel as if you and millions of other Americans have noticed the same patterns and trends, particularly since the onset of COVID-19.  

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Here’s my most recent example of lousy customer service at a corporate-run business, which occurred Friday night. My wife and I traveled to a tourist-destination city to handle some unfinished personal matters and to also see the sights. A day of touring one hotspot after another drained our energies dry. We opted to call a pizza place and order and then pick up our dinner and eat it in our hotel room. The pizza employee assured us by phone they would have our food ready in 15 minutes. 

Due to heavy traffic, we arrived at the pizza place 45 minutes later. There, I paid for the pizza and there I learned the staff had cooked it, but it wasn’t keeping warm on the stove, as I had assumed. The staff, for inexplicable reasons, lost and then could not find our large pepperoni pizza.  

My wife and I graciously agreed to wait 15 additional minutes as the staff prepared another pizza. 

No apology was given for our troubles. 

My wife and I drove back to our hotel only to discover that our hotel key didn’t work. We marched to the front lobby, but we had to stand in line as the couple in front of us made small talk with the hotel clerk about their wedding anniversary and other details not germane to their own hotel room. I held the large pizza as I stood in line and gave the clerk a most unpleasant glare. 

As soon as I got to the front of the line, I learned the key was no longer good because another clerk neglected to have me sign a certain form one day prior. So, naturally, the staff took my money but saw just cause to lock my wife and I out of our room for something that we could have resolved through a phone call earlier that day. Once I signed the form, we were allowed back in. 

Among only some of the other examples of lousy customer service I’ve experienced this calendar year:

• The staff at one corporate Internet company in February and March couldn’t follow simple instructions and mailed five different routers to just as many wrong addresses before they finally got it right and sent it to my correct address. They even sent a technician to help me work out certain glitches with the router….but they called a technician in another state and sent him to an address 300 miles away from mine.

• The staff at one storage unit I’m using charged me $120 extra every month because they falsely believed I had rented a second unit. I called them almost every day for a month before they admitted they made a mistake.

• I have seen several places of business close for the day because certain employees won’t clock in at work. Fast-food restaurants that generally require at least five or more employees are down to one person (and that causes all kinds of headaches in the car line). 

I like to think I have remarkable patience compared to most other people. I think several people in similar circumstances either would have given up on these businesses or erupted with a Karen-like outburst.

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The government can help remedy these problems. Politicians and bureaucrats can incentivize people to do better. They can make it harder for people to remain unemployed. They can force people to come to work. 

Members of our increasingly-woke corporate America should work harder to meet a reasonable customer service threshold. They should hold their employees to higher standards but only after those employees realize the government will no longer provide those workers with a safety net if they suddenly feel lazy. 

We can and should do better.

Part of making America great again involves not only better political practices but better business practices.


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