Where has the ‘service’ in customer service gone?

It used to be an honoured profession to work in the ‘service industry’.  But here in Australia it seems to be all ‘self-service’ – whether it’s in a restaurant, a pub, a clothing store, selecting a phone service, paying a bill or even selecting a DVD.  Now you can get a DVD from a vending machine! Where has the personal service gone?  One-to-one, eye contact, building a relationship, even common courtesy? I recently went into a not-very-busy department store looking for furniture.  The salesperson was filling out paperwork at a desk and didn’t even look up to acknowledge me.  I waited patiently for about 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes, pointedly looking in their direction to will them to notice my presence.  Nothing!  Not a flutter of an eyelid! No interest whatsoever!  So I started walking away.  All of a sudden – action – “May I help you?”  Too late.  I kept on walking.  Now, not everybody is as impatient as I am but still…There is one integral premise in business that people need to get: The most important asset of your business is not your products or even your service.  It’s your customers.  Without customers you don’t have a business. You have to appreciate your customers, show you care, understand what they want and when they want it … even just acknowledging them.  Show common courtesy.  And it’s not just up to your customer service staff nor your salespeople.  It applies to all aspects of a business, all people within the business, the whole culture of the business. It’s a well known fact that it costs 6 to 8 times more to get a new customer than it does to do more business with an existing customer! I am amazed that restaurants and pubs don’t get that.  How much more money would they get if they actually asked a customer if they’d like another drink?  OK, maybe we drink enough here in Australia, but you get my point don’t you?  When planning an event with a supplier, wouldn’t it be worth them asking a few more questions?
  • What’s the occasion? Anniversary?
  • Would you like to book a restaurant?
  • Would you like a limousine to pick you up?
  • Have you bought the gift yet? What kind of jewellery does she like?
  • How about a beauty treatment prior? Massage? Hair? Nails? Make-up?
It’s hard to get personal service from an automated phone line or from a website.  Let’s bring ‘service’ back to life and learn how to deal with people.  People like to deal with people.  And those ‘people’ are your customers.  Your most important asset!