Tuesday, May 7, 2024

What happened to all of the good service?

Dress (size down)// Sandals (come in 9 colors)

I've wanted to write about this for a while, but I needed to figure out how to approach the topic without sounding like a 'Karen.' After reading this, you may still think I am a Karen, but many may agree with at least some of what I have to say. 

Have you noticed a decline in good service (whether in restaurants, doctor's offices, caf├ęs, the post office, etc.)? I have. I often wonder if it's just a halcyon moment, but I don't think that's the case. I'm really curious to hear your point of view on this, as we all live in different locations, and so our experiences are all so varied! 

For a long time, I excused lousy service because of the pandemic. Businesses were short-staffed  (some still are). I get it. I am a very reasonable person. 

I am nothing if not understanding and patient. I would never want to be the reason someone gets in trouble at their job. To an extent, I also care what others think, and I don't want to seem difficult or demanding. Because of this, I seldom complain about anything. If the service is terrible, I will just use my consumer power and not give the company my business again. In many instances, what good does complaining even accomplish, anyway?

I think many people are like me- they don't complain and just go on their merry way. On the one hand, I think that is good because there are people out there who complain incessantly and are downright rude and disrespectful, and maybe this cultural shift has quieted them a bit. On the other hand, constructive criticism is important. If you don't share feedback (with kindness), companies won't know they're dropping the ball. Just like if you are in a friendship or relationship and don't speak up if something bothers you, how would the person know? But that's what I think lesser service has become: a cultural shift. 

I feel like, in some sense, I have even lowered my standards. 

I think I only realized this when we traveled to Europe a few years ago, and the service was impeccable everywhere we went. I remember we went to a restaurant right here in Pittsburgh last year, and the service was out of this world good. I was reminded again of what good service looks like. It was such a breath of fresh air, making the experience much more enjoyable. Whenever I receive great service, it highlights that it is a scarcity. 

I have received two instances of wonderful service repeatedly here locally at the Whole Foods deli counter and the UPS store. The service I receive at these two places is a shining example of good service and what, in my opinion, should be the standard. 

I will say, the general public has become harder to deal with over the last few years. You see so many of those awful videos of customers treating employees without an ounce of respect. I've personally noticed a shift (less polite) in how people communicate with me over the past few years, and that's just over the internet. There is certainly a lack of respect, kindness, and common decency these days from select consumers. I'm sure that wears consumer-facing businesses and employees down. There are many other factors and viewpoints to consider. It's a nuanced topic, and I am only sharing my opinion and experience. 

Anyway, I'm rambling. The bottom line is that I am very action-oriented. Instead of complaining, which I won't often do, I have started to be actionable by praising. If I receive good service, I go out of my way to get in touch with someone to praise the company or the employee. If it's a tipping situation, I go above and beyond and let my money do the talking. Commending good service and recognizing people doing a great job is a way to improve things. Finding a contact and reaching out sometimes takes extra leg work, but it's worth it and a positive way forward. 

So, the next time you receive exceptional service, consider sharing your praise, write a positive review, or personally let the company or employee know how thankful you are. That goes a long way!

I know many of you likely already do this- I feel lucky to have a community of people here who are respectful, thoughtful, and kind! This post could be summed up with one idiom: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar! 


Kelly C said...

I’d also like to add the ‘you play stupid games you get stupid prizes’ if you’re gonna be rude to a staff member, then it’ll come back around. I totally agree with this! I also wonder if the tipping culture has something to do with the lack of service as well. It seems EVERY job is expecting a 20%+ tip now, regardless of the service. Many businesses even asking for the tip before the service has been rendered. It bothers me because I want to praise the good service, not just the mediocre. I told my husband the other day if I have to stand while ordering and bring the food/beverage to my own table I’m not tipping, unless the employee recognizes me or truly goes above and beyond. All that to say, it’s making me more aware and work harder to provide excellent service in my own professional capacity.

MParker said...

I took my three year old to the Lego Store at Disney Springs and there’s a place where you can build a Lego car and send it down the ramp. There has ALWAYS been an employee supervising but rarely interacts. Well that day, the man working was talking to every kid, helping them build cars, retrieve pieces and even built a starting line to put your cars behind so they all go at the same time for a race. I got a survey in my email a few days later about my experience. And I wrote all about Scott. A few days after that, I got a personal email from the store manager thanking me for one - doing the survey and two - writing about a specific employee. In this world, all we do is complain. So now I will absolutely go out of my way to share my satisfaction with a superior.

Kim M said...

Totally agree that service is declining, especially in restaurants and many retail stores. It's especially frustrating because prices have gone up so much across the board too! Seems like many employees just don't care anymore. Like you, I try to patronize places that are doing a good job. I had a great experience at my local (suburban Chicago) post office today - was mailing my daughter's wedding invitations and the clerk was extremely helpful not only with ensuring everything had proper postage, but also with the special handling they required. He and I hand-cancelled everything together!

Laura Baker Busic said...

I agree with everything you said! I NEVER complain to staff, mainly because I used to work in retail and I know how difficult people can be. I especially appreciate restaurant staff because I know I could never hack it as a server, they juggle so much for very little appreciation and are the first to receive complaints for things that they probably had nothing to do with anyway. The thing that upsets me most about the decline of good quality service lately is when I feel like people (store associates, servers, etc.) act as though simply doing their job is a nuisance. Especially when I strive to be the lowest-maintenance customer possible! I think your focus on praising good service is a great idea and will make a difference in the long run, even if it's just with that one person! I will definitely be making a more conscious effort to share praise whenever it crosses my mind too. It's one of the only valuable things that is truly free!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. In my opinion, it has been going down for awhile now. Years ago I decided to do what you do and go out of my way to praise any good service. I also worked retail and it amazes me that you go in stores and no one will even greet you, let alone ask if you need help. I also let my money do my talking when tipping in hopes service will improve. Lack of work ethic and entitlement seem to be taking over. I hope we will see a change, but unfortunately am not sure that is going to happen. You seem to have an old soul for your age and I so appreciate that! I love that your family is so important to you and you enjoy spending time with them. Your parents did a wonderful job raising you. Thank you for all your content. I live near Pittsburgh so appreciate all your local recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Great blog post.


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