Friday, January 11, 2008

The Woes of Customer Service

"There are two rules of management: 1. The customer is always right. 2. They must be punished for their arrogance." -Dogbert's rules of management.

Many countries have laws that require its citizens to do some military service. Canada is not one of those countries. Nor should it be, in my opinion. Canada is not a militaristic country. However, it is a consumeristic country.

Instead of requiring every able-bodied Canadian to do military service, I think Canada should require every one of its citizens do several months of customer service. This could be working at a fast food restaurant, store clerk, gas station jockey, or any minimum wage job that requires you deal with the general public.

Anyone who has worked in that sort of job knows what customers can be like. Working in that job shows you how to be a good customer. Being a good customer means getting good service. Good service may be company policy, but the customer service agents are people too. The better you treat them, the better they treat you. Trust me; a smile, a "please" and a "thank you" go a long way. Longer than a good tip.

You may be a bad customer and not know it.

I worked at a Tim Horton's in an Esso gas station for a while. It was a small Tim Horton's. I worked alone. My only human interaction most days was with customers.

Tim Horton's has a policy of throwing out old coffee. This way the coffee is always fresh. Once a pot brews we look at a clock, add 20 minutes, and write that time on the pot with an easily erasable pencil. If it's really busy, we don't mark the pots because no pot will last 20 minutes. Once a pot has been sitting for 20 minutes it's poured down the sink.

I always kept at least 2 pots on the go. One pot had coffee that was less than 10 minutes old - the fresh pot. The other had coffee that was at least 10 minutes old - the old pot.

I quit that job years ago to return to college. But if I ever take that job again for extra cash, or whatever reason, and you come in and see me behind the counter here are some ways to get coffee from the old pot:
  1. Ask for the freshest coffee - this guarantees you the oldest coffee I have.

    Yeah, I'm a jerk. But so are you. Enjoy your "fresh" coffee.
  2. Ask for coffee from the oldest pot. - I did have a customer that did this. She wanted decaf as old and strong as I could make it. I would stop brewing new decaf at least an hour before she normally would come in. She would greet me with a smile that would brighten the day. She would ask how old my decaf was. "Ummm...over an hour old."
    "Good. The older, the better. Can I have a large single-single decaf, please?"
    "Why, certainly. That will be $1.35, please."
    "Here you go," she'd say as she gave me a Toonie. "Keep the change, and have a good day."
    "Thank you very much! Have a good day!"

    My best customer. I'd personally remove the caffeine molecules with a pair of tweezers for her if she asked.

    Bottom line: If you want old coffee, ask. You just might get it.
  3. Greet me by saying "Hi. How are you?" then interrupt me when I begin to say "Not bad, how about you?" - If you don't want an answer DON'T ASK A @#$@n' QUESTION! Just say "Hi."

    Yeah, I'm a jerk. But so are you.
  4. If you buy something from me just to make change, don't be surprised to receive $18.50 in nickels and dimes. - I'm there to serve coffee, not make change.

    Yeah, I'm a jerk. But so are you. Enjoy your 20 lbs of coinage. I hope you have a good belt to hold your trousers up with that added weight.
  5. Don't use the manners your mother taught you, like "Please" and "Thank you." - I'll treat you like a human when you treat me like one.

    Yeah, I'm a jerk. But so are you.
  6. Assume that because you don't see anyone else in line, there isn't anyone else in line. - Sometimes I have someone at the drive-thru that you can't see. Sometimes they hum and haw and it looks like I'm just ignoring you. I'm not. You're second in line. Wait your turn.

    Sometimes people come in, order a number of coffees, then go to the washroom while I make the drinks. Then you walk in and think you're the first one in line. You're not.

    You're not a jerk this time. Your confusion is understandable. Unless you blow up at me. Then you're a jerk.
  7. Demand a coffee instead of asking for one. - I'm not your slave-boy. You depend on me for good service. Treat me like a human. When you do that, I'll return the favour.

    Yeah, I'm a jerk. But so are you. Enjoy your "fresh" coffee.
  8. Tell me you're in a hurry, then order something that takes a while to make, like an Iced Cap, or a toasted begal with cream cheese. Then leave before its prepared. Then come back 20 minutes later wondering where it is. - When you demand I move faster you will fall to the bottom of my priority list and get served last. Telling me to go faster has the same effect as tailgating me when driving. I don't move faster. I slow down. When you leave, I'll eat your begal and drink your Iced Cap. Mmmmm. Yummy!

    Yeah, I'm a jerk. But so are you.
  9. Pay for your order with the money from my tip tray. - Thief.
  10. Remove the lid to your tea, take a sip, don't completely replace the cover leaving an opening so some hot tea can fall onto my hand - thus scalding me - in order to tell me it's too hot. - This won't get you old coffee. But you're still a jerk. I'm suing you.

    Tea is hot. So is coffee without cream or milk. In my day you could ask for ice with your tea. I found two ice cubes would quickly cool the tea down to a drinkable temperature. I don't know if you can still do this. This is part of the demise of Tim Horton's, which I will likely blog about in the future. I now go toCountry Style for my coffee.


All of the above are from actual incidences. There was no exaggeration. Apparently customer service doesn't bring out the best in me. I guess it's a good thing I work with computers nowadays.

Maybe I should join a Facebook group, as talked about in today's article.

(Yeah. I know today's post didn't have a lot to do with today's article, but I wanted to rant. Feel free to leave your customer-related rants as comments.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to say that I don't believe that everyone should do customer service. Not everyone is made to do that kind of work just like not everyone is made to work in the health care profession even though we all use it.
I have worked in customer service and actually enjoyed it most days even though people in todays age are very selfish etc. It was a challenge. I think that it takes a special person to do work like this however it takes a special type of person to do any and all jobs. That is why the Lord made us all different with all different talents....
Thats enough of a speech for tonight....