Customer Service RIP

Since family and work have kept me on the reservation, so let me ease back into the fray with a real general question…

When did Customer Service Die?

My father was a small town pediatrician, developer, and banker, but he always taught that me that no matter the line of work we are all involved in to some degree in customer service.  I was reminded in the last two days of how customer service has been replaced with indifference and stupid questions.

1. Recently while paying the bill in a restaurant I gave the waitress several greenbacks to pay the bill, planning to tip her out of some of my change.  She sees the bill, ignores the fact that I am clearly waiting for her to bring back change, and says “Do you want any change?”

I said, “Yes”, but what I thought was “if I didn’t want change, you surly little twit, I would have told you to keep the change.”  Was her tip affected by her actions?  YOU make the call.

2. I had an MRI done on my right knee this AM because…well, that’s another story.  When I made the appointment, I asked where I should park.  “In the parking garage”.  Do you validate?  “Yes”.  When I get there, I see there is a small fee for parking.  Good thing they validate, because I have no $$ on me!

We finish the appointment, and I ask the nice lady at the counter (who is different than the one I spoke to the night before) to validate my parking ticket.  “Oh, I ‘m sorry, we don’t validate!”

A pity…we all need some validation now and then…

Nonetheless, it is typical of the way I find doctors offices these days.  No time for customer service, barely time to be polite.  Too often it seems staying sick is preferable to being treated disrespectfully and rudely by office personnel.  The funny thing is it is always the staff that is being prickly and rude.   Generally it is the staff, sometimes it is the doctor.  For example:

Last year I had a tooth crack.  I went in for a crown.  My dentists uses this new and amazing magnetic resonance contraption, hooked to a computer and a lathe, that makes a custom crown based on the specs the dentist inputs.  The first time he did one for me (a year previous) the whole process took 90 minutes.

This time after 3 hours he still didn’t have it right.  I had to come in for a separate sitting, when it took 90 minutes.  He told me that the first time there had been a bunch of things happening and the delay was purely “Operator error”.

Now if this was any other line of work the vendor would typically, and without being asked, do something for the customer to make up for the inconvenience.  Not here.  Full price was demanded, and nothing offered to make up for the fact that I wasted 3 hours in the chair simply because my dentists was having a bad day.

It is the staff’s, it’s the “healers”, it’s the whole kit and caboodle.  So much for customer service in the medical field.

3. I leave the MRI shop and hit an ATM on the way out.  I get a couple of $20’s.  I pull out of the parking garage, give the parking attendant my ticket, and he says the charge is $1.00.  I give him the $20 bill.  He looks at me and says “do you have any $1.00’s?”  I said, “No sir,”, but what I wanted to say was ,”Wow, if I had the singles, don’t you think I would have used the single?”

Yep, I am grumpy…being stuck in a not so large cylinder for an extended period of time will do that to you.  But come on-is there any reason to treat customers with disrespect and even contempt?  Does it hurt so much to be nice and/or to do the right thing?  Because they can be administered all the time, and in many different ways.  For instance…

As my children have gotten older and I have been on the receiving end of pediatrician trips, I noticed something…almost never were antibiotics given via a “shot”, always orally.  I asked my now retired father why he gave shots when I was a child…was it because the oral antibiotics were not available?  His reply, “No, I gave the shots in great part because it got the medicine into the system faster, the children got well faster, and parents missed less time at work!”

Practicality and customer service all in one dose.  We could use more of that today.


7 thoughts on “Customer Service RIP

  1. I think we’re seeing a ripple effect. Every time we are treated rudely by a service employee, we pass it on to the next person.

    I suspect a lot of the lack of civility at all levels, including road rage, boils down to the fact that we are not being treated with respect or kindness so we too don’t feel much compassion for others.

    BTW, hope your knee feels better.

  2. Thank you! That makes two of us!

    On the other hand, I feel like someone keeps whacking me in the knee each day…I think it is the neighbor kid hoping to cripple me so he can make money doing yardwork this summer. 😉

  3. Bwana:
    Sorry you are having knee issues. I agree that a lack of civility in the medical profession. My primary care physician, is a serious and good young man. The staff that works in that office, especially the people who work in the recpetion area are the surliest and down right rudest women I have ever had the ill-pleasure of dealing with.
    Also I stopped my optomitrist (who I have know thru the Chamber of Commerce for years) because I just couldn’t put up with the rude staff.
    In some respects, I am like you, in some respects I’d rather be sick then have to go to the Doctor.
    Take care Bwana and I hope you knee feels better.


  4. Interestingly, I read an article recently online at the Wall Street Journal about dealing with customer service. It said to try to be unfailingly polite, and try to use the CSR’s name as much as possible in conversation with him/her. Something tells me that this does not work all the time, but I wanted to pass this along.

    Sorry about your knee and tooth problems.

  5. I am, as they way, down wid dat stuff! I know my dentist’s name, and the attendants name was Knoish.

    I probably should have just called him “Bill” for all the good it did to learn his name. 😉

  6. I wait tables and let me tell you that waiters are paranoid about being tipped. So many people tip poorly or never at all. The single mom or college student that you stiffed on a tip because of your silly, fickle vanity probably could have used the money. Shame on you.

  7. I am sure she could have used the money…which perhaps means she might want to give good service instead of trying to bluff me out of a larger tip.

    Shame on her for taking three $20 bills for a bill of about $42 and thinking I would be tipping her $18.00. I think there was silly, fickle vanity involved, and here it seems it was all possessed by our wait staff.

    And shame on you for presuming to know it all without asking for all the facts. From the IP address you left I can only assume it is the result of Ivy League myopia…where I would have thought that folks know that if you insult the customers intelligence there will be consequences.

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