The Customer is Always Right, Right?

By: Roshanda Pratt

I am a stickler for good customer service, just ask my husband.  I have been known to call a manager in front of a rude employee on more than one occasion.  I have no problem doing it because at one time, I was on the other side of the counter.  During my years of working in fast food and retail I was taught to give the customer “service with a smile” and “the customer is always right.”  But in my recent experiences, I have found out this is not happening today, and that is very wrong.

Recently, the American Consumer Satisfaction Index found customers do not love service at McDonald’s.  According to the survey, the fast food giant received the lowest customer satisfaction ranking of any full-service or fast-food chain on the survey.  Honestly, I was not surprised.  I don’t go to McDonald’s for great customer service.  In my opinion they stopped doing that long ago.  Remember those famous “Welcome to McDonald’s, can I help you?” commercials in the 80’s featuring a young guy named Calvin whom dreamed of owning a McDonald’s?  He has now been replaced with a rude, oftentimes nonchalant, ill-mannered employee who treats me as if I am wasting his or her time.

What happened? This is my observation.  In an effort to cut corners more and more, fast food chains are hiring people who just want a check.  People who do not have a servant’s heart, an attitude of service; at the core people are selfish.  I never understood people who would work in a field like customer service, but yet, do not like people. Another part of the problem I see is a lack of manners.  Manners are taught, and they should be learned as a child. I am amazed how adults do not know how to say “Thank You,” “Please,” or “You’re Welcome.”  These common courtesies have become a curse word in our society.  How is that? I could imagine Emily Post rolling over in her grave!

So how do we solve this moral dilemma?  We have to hold people accountable and that means having a standard.  I had friend who had a father who was a military sergeant as it pertained to customer service.  He would take the family to a restaurant, put a stack of one dollar bills on the table and inform the waitress/waiter that was their tip.  He went on to say if they made an error or provided bad service, he would take a dollar away.  Whatever was left at the end of the meal was the tip.  That may seem extreme, but it held the waiter and waitress accountable.  I understand some customers can act like a real baboon. I get it.  But it still does not excuse you from doing the job you agreed to be hired to do.

Let’s talk about accountability a little further.  As a company, it should not just be about the bottom line. It should also be about the steps you take to get there.  For example, I have never had a bad experience at Chick-Fil-A.  The people working there take pride in their restaurant and providing outstanding service.  The company invests in its employees and has a certain standard of people who they pick to be part of their team.  I think it’s no wonder, on any given lunch hour, you can find the restaurant packed to the full.  Employees have to feel vested, buy in to what they are selling.  If not, you will have people disgruntled about their job and just waiting until payday.

Who’s to blame?  Both the company’s and the people hired.  I blame the company for not having a higher standard, a code of ethics and making sure employees adhere to it.  I blame the companies for creating an environment where they just seek “bodies” to hand out food without making a genuine investment to build people.  I find people are more willing to work hard and provide the best when they feel like they have been invested into and appreciated.  I also blame employees who want to take the easy way out, who complain and whine when they have a job to do, who often opt to do the bare minimum.

I decided long ago to hold employees accountable.  I understand if you are having a bad day.  We all have had one of those, but when you break my customer “service” rules, then I decide you DO NOT want my money and I will shop elsewhere.  After all, I think you are trying to gain me as a repeat customer?  Give me a reason to come back!

My Pet Peeves:

  • Not acknowledging my presence when I am clearly standing in front of you.
  • Repeatedly asking me even when I made it clear I do not need any help.
  • Treating me like a “girlfriend” and not a customer.  (Side note: True story here, I was actually in a sandwich shop and the young lady making my sandwich was cussing and speaking to me as if we knew each other a long time.  Needless to say, I did not return.)
  • Using profane language in front of my children.
  • Rude behavior of any sort.
  • Making a mistake on your end, but not being willing to correct it.
  • Not giving me the necessities… such as napkins, straws and spoon.
  • And charging for things like sauce for my nuggets, ketchup, tomatoes, pickles, cheese…etc.

Have you ever had horrible customer service and how did you handle it?  What do you think is the cause for a decline in the customer always being right?  Or maybe if I left your pet peeve off my list, please post below.

Have a great day!

Ro