Will decent customer service ever return?

I’ve commented before about how customer service ain’t what it used to be. Because of that, I find I want to deal with companies less and less. If that was their goal, well, mission: accomplished.

Consumers and businesses have been butting heads in recent years by the corporate insistence on automating everything to have fewer touchpoints — read that as: customers finding the answers or completing tasks on their own.

Earlier this year, I terminated service with a company because I couldn’t get basic contact information for them. I had no interest in spending 20 minutes clicking through “knowledge bases” on their website. I just needed a phone number to talk to someone. In the end, I cancelled and haven’t looked back.

Last week, I was at a Dairy Queen and was overwhelmed by the amount of no-no-no signage I encountered. Customers couldn’t fill their drinks at the self-serve machine, they couldn’t open the freezers for the cakes, they couldn’t use the dining room, delivery drivers couldn’t put their bags on a counter. At one point I was told to wait outside for my order. (I’m writing this midway through 2023. We’re not in pandemic mode anymore.)

DQ’s corporate media relations made excuses for all of the above, while noting some changes were on the horizon.

I had to chuckle at the post office the other day. There’s a sign that said, “We don’t provide tape. Not even a strip of tape” within inches of the sign begging for “kindness” and noting that rude behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Kindness might be — I’m just putting it out there — providing “even a strip of tape” to a customer who’s in need of one. I understand the overpriced rolls of tape are for purchase a few steps away but, come on, “even a strip of tape” is not going above and beyond for a customer.

Everybody hates being told no but when you’re bombarded with that messaging it sets a negative tone for the customer experience. (Interesting they glam it up by calling it an “experience” now since there’s such a lack of service.)

Speaking of service, the self-serve checkout is a problem. It used to be an option for customers but now I make a habit of counting how many customers are working the register versus employees.

I have no interest in waiting in line to ring through my own basket while an entire row of employee-manned cash registers is closed. Why are we waiting in line to do their work? Again, if it’s an option, fine; let us choose to have an employee do it or we do it ourselves. When we’re forced to do it and wait in line to do so because there’s nary a cashier in sight… not happening. Sorry.

While I don’t get confrontational, I am that person who finds employees elsewhere in the store and says, “Let’s get some cashiers up there” when not one of the registers is being operated by staff.

It’s no wonder customers are at the end of their rope and there are dedicated YouTube channels and even a cable TV show (Customer Wars) about people flying off the handle. At first, I thought people were doing it for their 15 minutes of fame but now I get it. I really get it.

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