Has anyone else noticed that there seems to be a lack of customer service these days? I've watched this trend over the past 10 years or so decline further and further, no matter what the industry. Even if you can afford to shop in the higher end stores, there is a lack of knowledgeable sales help, and at the other end of the spectrum, the big box stores, you can't even find an employee most of the time.
Because of the recent move, I have spent more than a little time on the phone with "customer service" people from all sorts of companies, from cable and phone to insurance and social security. Besides being driven to near distraction by the automated phone systems, I have found that when I reach an actual human being there is little or no concern for helping me to resolve whatever issue has prompted my call. I wish I could say this is the rarity, but it has actually been the norm. I have had people be rude to me from the moment they picked up the call. I try very hard to treat everyone I deal with respectfully and courteously, an my mother always said "treat others as you wish to be treated". Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter that I am not rude, loud, abusive or obnoxious-- the lack of service is still an issue. I know that people who work with the public all day receive a lot of abuse, most of which is uncalled for, and I think it is one of the toughest jobs in the world. What I don't understand is companies who hire and keep employees who seem bothered by the mere fact that they are being asked to do their job.
I've had a particularly rough time with our local cable TV company. Not only was my installation not done properly, but there is damage to my house and they managed to cut off service to the people who live above me instead of taking the time to do the installation right. The technician came in the door complaining about having too many jobs on his list that day, and proceeded to take the easy way out by disconnecting the tenant upstairs from all their service, and re-tagging the service to us. Of course I didn't know this at the time. My neighbors were left without phone, TV or internet service for 4 days! What a lovely way to make new friends of your neighbors! Luckily, they are good people who understood that the problem was with the cable company and not us. When they finally got someone out here to address the issue I was home, and that technician was the one who told me that the technician before had cut the neighbor's service and hooked us up to it. When I asked why such a thing would happen, he explained that since the cable company can't keep up with the demand they have for service calls, they hire out to sub-contractors. The man who came out was a sub-contractor who apparently didn't care about what he was doing. He saw an easy way to get me up and running and knew the neighbors weren't in, so he simply disconnected them and walked away.
I started working at a young age, and was taught by my upbringing as well as my employers that the customer is always right. My responsibility was to please the customer and to be polite and helpful in doing so. Of course you came across people who were unreasonable or rude, but you did your best to remain professional, and if need be you let a manager handle things. These days you can't even get a manager on a phone or in a store, and many times if you are fortunate enough to reach one, you get a laundry list of their complaints and excuses for why they can't help you.
I don't know where things started to break down, but the chain reaction has been, and I fear will continue to be catastrophic, until we all start to realize that we are in things together. We need qualified people to help us, we have a responsibility to act with kindness and decency toward the people who work with and for us, and we need to stop feeling entitled to things, as if we are somehow more important than the next person in line.
Of course this is never more evident to me than when I am dealing with a healthcare provider and as a chronically ill person I am doing that on an almost daily basis. I try very hard to make a point of thanking someone who provides me with good service, but beyond that I am out of ideas. I am wondering how the rest of you are finding things and what you do to cope when you don't receive proper service? I know that stress isn't good for any of us, especially those already dealing with health problems, and I am looking for creative ways to deal with a problem I don't see going away for a long time. I would appreciate your comments.