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September 13, 2012

You Get The Picture: What happened to customer service?

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — As I rolled through a McDonald’s drive thru to grab my once-a-week guilty pleasure, the ecstatic employee who greeted me was not ecstatic because he was ready to greet me but rather elated that he was “leaving in seven minutes to go home,” as he shoved the crisp bag o’breakfast in my general direction.

Whatever happened to the, “how are you today?” or friendly, “have a nice day,” or, for heaven’s sake, a good ‘ole fashioned “good morning?”  I believe our workforce has lost the charm of providing a service and began looking at it as an inconvenience.  

When was the last time you went to a restaurant and the waitress or waiter provided you with a bounty of customer service? I’ve heard of waiters dropping food off and disappearing until it was time to usher the table of customers out the door for the next paying customers like a brothel, but never truly experienced it for myself until the other day.  

The fancy-pants restaurant seated me immediately, but it took about 10 minutes for a waiter to take my drink order.  Then it took an extra 20 minutes for my bowl full of pasta to be dropped in front of me without question.  Hear me out, if I’m to pay a large sum of money for someone to make me wait 30 minutes for any meal I could make quicker for myself at home, I’d enjoy a bit of friendly service to alleviate my anxiety over the costliness of your carelessness.

I have been a waitress before and slaved in a hot kitchen to serve ferocious hungry college students, and, believe me, they are the worst kind.  So I know a thing or two about biting my tongue or pulling a manager in to de-escalate an outrageously angry customer because the pickle was touching the sandwich.  But when you yourself are a customer and have to ask how the waitress’ day has been first, there’s something terribly wrong.

Those who work in the food industry seem to expect a tip nowadays, they even put it on the meal ticket as a typical fee in some cases as if it’s deserved.  But if you ask your grandmothers how they worked the bustling tables at a thriving coffee house, like my grandmother in downtown Detroit, they will straight up tell you they worked their tails off to get a tip — smile included.  And it cannot be argued that back then the hourly pay was good, because it rarely is in any hourly-paid profession.

Overall, what’s the harm in offering a polite gesture, question, or compliment to a paying customer?  All we paying customers ask for is your service, your customer service — because it goes a long way in and outside the job.  Even at the drive thru window.

mmccrarey@sentinel-echo.com

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