Where Has All The Service Gone?

A fortnight ago my phone buzzed. It was an SMS from my bank to inform me that my new cheque card was ready for collection. Which would be great had I actually been waiting for a new one.

Instead I had been waiting for confirmation that my new credit card was ready and while the bank’s intentions were good the fact that they managed to make such a simple error irked me.

Some people might argue that the bank deals with thousands of people every day and these things happen. But my take on it is that the devil is in the details. Had it been one of their multi-millionaire clients I can guarantee they wouldn’t have done the same.

But why should my experience be different?

The scary thing for me is that this experience was simply part of an ongoing problem I’ve started to experience in recent times. Service levels are at an all time low. The scary thing for me is that business owners aren’t paying much attention to it at a time when businesses are fighting for every rand that they can get their hands on.

You’d think it would be the total opposite, that they’d have staff bending over backwards to try and help you. Who knows, it may well sway you to order that dessert or coffee to take your bill that bit higher. You didn’t really need that new shirt / dress but a pleasurable service experience in the store may just sway you into splurging.

But the sad reality is that walking into just about any store these days you’re likely to be met by staff, if they are anywhere to be found, who are disinterested and likely taking part in conversations with colleagues rather than eager to help.

Please don’t let me interrupt your vivid story about the weekend by asking for your help and offering to spend money in your store. And good luck sifting through the piles of clothes that are yet to be repacked after the Saturday morning rush.

The tellers at the supermarket having a fat chinwag with each other mean a slow queue. A slow moving line means I’m likely to keep driving right past the centre on my way home because there’s no such thing as popping in quickly after work. Is the after dinner treat or craving killer really worth the wait in store?

Recently my wife and I have sat at a restaurant and waited for service. There was no front of house staff to welcome us, we seated ourselves. Menus weren’t forthcoming and no chance to order drinks transpired so we left. And it took only 10 minutes to turn us off the place. We probably won’t go back.

It’s gotten to a point where I make note of the memorable service experiences. The Engen garage at Kyalami Downs sees me often because their staff go the extra mile. A Monday morning usually gets you well wishes for the rest of the week ahead.

Bilal at the Sasol garage in Sunninghill always goes out of the way to offer to help, and his effort hasn’t waned even as the morning’s have become chillier and stepping outside is not at the top of the list of appealing prospects.

What is the problem?

Bad management? A lack of motivation or pride in jobs? How do we fix it? I think businesses need to respect their customers a bit more, regardless of whether you’re spending R10 or R10 000.

Have you experienced similar recently or am I just being full of shit? If you agree then share this, connect with me via my Facebook page and let me know. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter too.

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