Havana Sundaes: Welcome to Customer Service

I must say when I started the week, my plan was to write about exciting news in Cuba.  It has been the center of my life for over a year now.  I immersed myself in their culture, became fascinated in the Cuban 5 and debated openly with my future brother in law on why America wasn’t crap, a sentiment expressed more tactfully and in private by my loving fiance on our first meeting as he considered the prospect of moving here similar to facing a firing squad.  In the end though, as I considered our differences something else in our differences struck me and it was something more troublesome to me that has bothered me about my “homeland” for some time.

What happened to customer service?

Be it at a restaurant, a grocery store, a hospital, or any number of places there is a noted absence.  No more smiling faces, very seldom is there a helping hand, and more often than not I leave an establishment feeling mildly insulted and/or assaulted.  Frankly, I feel more comfortable dealing with the bright blare of a computer screen where I can search out the best deal and thorough product description in peace rather than being ignored, subjected to ignorant conversation amongst coworkers (and ignored), or to pray for all the patience God can spare not to show out when spoken to flippantly by an associate with more attitude than common sense.

Is it because I’m a woman?  Because I appear worse for wear after a sixteen hour shift? Could it be because I am black or because I am usually on my cellphone with my job, my mother, or my friend?  When did it become okay to treat a customer as if they were not keeping you gainfully employed?

Contrary to belief black consumers drive the economy.  Though we only represent roughly 13% of the population, we contribute to $1.1 trillion in sales annually(http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2014/02/african-americans-1-1-trillion-dollars-buying-power-putting-good-use/).  Even still, when I go into a store I have to usually search out someone for assistance(even though I know I am being watched to ensure I don’t steal). I have to be particularly charming even though I am having a less than fabulous day to set my sales clerk at ease.

Women also control the purse strings of America and from reports have for sometime without proper acknowledgement though I am condescended to and underestimated frequently. (http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2013/u-s–women-control-the-purse-strings.html)  In my lifetime I have been talked down to on everything from automobiles, their repairs, DIY supplies, and large ticket purchases in general.

Why has disservice become the norm?  I have had the privilege to become a public servant and it is not always glamorous. In fact it rarely is but I never lose site that there is always another hospital, another clinic, another nurse that the consumer can have provide their needs.  They chose me and I would like them to continue to choose me in future.  It is my job to make them happy.  Before this from Walmart cashier to fraud investigator for Home Depot it has been my constant duty to serve my customer and exceed their expectation and yet…it seems this is no longer the case and a pleasant customer care representative is as rare to obsolete as a compact disc.

In 2015, as I have been reminded that the loudest voice is the one belonging to the highest bidder, I will no longer be okay with subpar service.  I will demand great customer service or I will no longer give my money to an establishment.  I have also found I am not interested in buying into the corporate monsters but choose instead to frequent smaller business where a bad experience can mean life or death to that business. It may not make much of a difference on a national scale but it is making a difference in my life already.  I save money, I have much less buyer’s remorse, and I know it sets a better example for the future.  We can still save the concept of great customer service.

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