If you have ever travelled to the USA, you know that customer service attitudes are generally excellent, especially in the service industry. Why? Because almost all service industry employees rely heavily on their tips as part of their income. So, no matter how bad a day you are having, you will put on a smile to nail the 20% tip.
Also, in the USA, job security does not exist. Everyone knows that one lousy complaint or clash with your boss can lead to instant dismissal.
How would you describe poor customer service?
In this article I am only looking at the service industry. By that I mean retail along with food and beverage.
Everyone is different, and we all have different expectations when we walk into a shop. For example, some people instantly want a customer service representative to attach themselves to them to see if there is anything they can do to help. For me, I do not like this. I prefer to look around, and if required, I will find a service rep to help.
At the point I ask for help, I generally expect the service rep to be knowledgeable about the products in the shop. For me, a lack of knowledge represents a lack of commitment and poor customer service.
5 main causes of poor customer service
What are the main reasons for poor customer service and bad attitudes?
- Employing the wrong people.
- Lack of appropriate training.
- No investment in employee competence.
- Zero employee engagement.
- Bad management.
As you can see, the above list is all about people’s soft skills and with the correct management and employees, customer service attitudes should be exceptional.
So, take the above list and fix it within the USA service industry where there are extreme consequences to getting it wrong, and all will be well.
Consequences of poor customer service attitudes!
Above, we show that poor customer service attitudes in the USA will directly impact an employee’s job and income.
We also know that poor customer service will directly impact the business. In an age where reviews are used daily to tell customers how people judge your business. Bad reviews can literally kill a business. I myself will always look at hotel and restaurant reviews on trust pilot before going to one I have never used or eaten at before.
But is that the only thing that keeps people smiling as you walk in the door of the shop or the restaurant?
Having spent a long time in the Middle East, most of the retail employees and servers in the cafés and restaurants are Filipino and other Asians.
The wages in the Middle east compared to UK standards are well below minimum levels, and tips are not officially counted towards an employee’s salary.
But the Filipinos are always massively helpful and always happy. Yes, most of them need to work to send money home, and, if they lose their job in the Middle East, they could end up being sent home.
But in general, they a proud to be working in the shop or the hotel that you see them in. As the face of the company, they promote it well and work hard. Although the hours are long, and holidays come once a year, they will still smile to ensure you have a great customer experience.
Poor customer service attitude!
So, where am I going with this article?
Since coming back to the UK after a 13-year absence, I was shocked at the attitude I faced when walking into a shop or restaurant.
Once you could get the attention of someone in the store, it was as if you should be grateful that they had allowed you in to shop. Not so long ago, when the customer was always right. You were welcomed into a shop or restaurant because you were the money, and without you, there is no business.
But times have changed, and it looks like you need to be grateful they have let you in the past the front door.
Poor customer service is either highlighted by a customer in the form of a complaint or spotted by a manager and dealing with it can be next to impossible.
The general employees would be wandering around talking to themselves or have their faces in a smartphone. Completely ignoring customers that needed assistance.
Not doing your job or doing a bad one in the UK does have consequences but will drag on for months, if not years.
Consequences in the UK?
So, the disciplinary process in the UK generally is a verbal warning followed by at least two written warnings before you can terminate someone. Imagine how much damage to a business reputation can be done in this time.
So as the employee knows that as long as they do the bare minimum outlined in their contracts, there is nothing the management can legally do.
Therefore, with no enforceable consequences, poor customer service will continue.
My partner, as you know, if Filipina and understands that interacting with the customer in the café gives her the opportunity to upsell an order, which equals more revenue for the business. Build relationships with the local customers, so they keep coming back. This equals more revenue for the business but also consistent income outside of the tourist season.
How can we improve?
This, I guess is the same as the red pill or the blue pill. I think the first stage is to understand why people in the UK see customer service as something they don’t need to concern themselves with. If we can understand that, then maybe, we can do something about it.
I do agree though it is not just the people working in the service industry. I have personally witnessed the way some of these employees are treated by customers. To be honest, I could not do their job because of the verbal abuse they were subject to.
Next week, I will write about all the entitled Karens (male and female) that I have seen abusing employees in stores, cafes, and restaurants.