Nov 192003
Authors: Stacey Schneider

Perhaps the only thing more scary than stumbling across the

Richard Simmons infomercial at 3 a.m. is finding the Internet, in

particular instant messenger, kaput.

Instead of rationally taking the time to search out the problem,

instinct drove me to immediately call the” all-knowing” customer

service line. After remaining on hold for what seemed like half my

life, the man on the other end said that I could remain on the line

for $9.99, or try to fix the problem through their “helpful”

on-line service.

Seeing as it was not exactly possible to access the “helpful”

on-line service at the time, and paying $9.99 for a shoddy product

that they had produced was not high on my list of things to do, I

hung up the phone, shaking my head at the sad state of customer

service today.

This is just one of the thousands of examples of the decline in

customer service today.

History shows an opposite picture. Back in the early1900s and

late into the 50s, companies prided themselves on their abilities

to serve the public.

James Cash Penney, founder of, you guessed it, JC Penney, named

his first store “Golden Rule” to reflect his extreme regard for the

phrase “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Founded

on this principle, JC Penney was proud to serve customers in a

friendly manner, and start not just customer-to-company

relationships, but friend-to-friend relationships as well.

Also, during this time, mom and pop shops were noted for their

focus on the customer. Shoppers were known on an individual basis

and the whole shopping phenomenon was an experience rather than a

mere errand.

Part of doing business was building relationships, and a

handshake was a binding contract to hold people to their word.

Today a handshake only seems to occur between the corrupt car

salesman and the customer he is taking advantage of. The needs of

the customers have been thrown to the wayside, and now it is viewed

almost as an interruption to want assistance in a store.

What exactly changed the happy go-lucky salesperson with the

picture perfect smile into the lazy, half-asleep salesperson with

the gloomy grimace? It seems that even though Americans are working

more than ever, quality of work and pride have declined.

Work ethic has transformed into the “just get it done quickly”

ideology from the “get it done right” line of thought. This lack of

attention to quality and detail has found its way into the customer

service realm and eaten away at it.

In years past, building a relationship with a customer was not

seen as a chore or job requirement, but rather a part of exhibiting

pride about one’s job. This is not true today, as it is seen as

just another task to get in the way. Because relationships take

time to build, they do not fit into the “get it done quickly” mold

and are cast away and soon forgotten.

Unfortunately, this lack of work ethic seems to be a nationwide

epidemic, and the “happy worker” vaccination has not yet been

invented. Until this occurs, or robotic machines start taking over

the customer service responsibilities, a drastic overhaul of

society is needed to instill pride in the population and reinstate

the work ethic.

In order for this to happen, society has to raise the bar the on

expectations. We can no longer accept “good enough” but rather

expect only the absolute best one can offer. Mediocrity must be

subdued and excellence brought to the forefront of society.

Until this happens, my expectations of friendly service remain

low and my long list of bad service examples will continue to grow

at an exponential rate.

If I have learned nothing else from these bad experiences, I

have at least learned that next time I have a computer problem the

computer and a sturdy baseball bat are the only things I need.

Stacey is a senior majoring in marketing. Her column runs every





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