Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today's Guest Rant is by author Victoria Watson

I don’t know about you but I always thought that if someone was good enough to pay you to do a job, you’d better at least try to do your best.

I never understand people who enter into occupations in which they have to deal with the public who then make no effort whatsoever to give the customer – i.e. the person who effectively pays their wages – a good experience.

I don’t just mean people who work in restaurants and shops but also people like receptionists, librarians and doctors (among many others). If you don’t want to serve the public, don’t work in customer service!

I am sick of going to a shop, a bank or a hospital where people obviously hate their jobs and, by proxy, hate you. I understand that people feel they are under-paid and over-worked, particularly with so many companies cutting back due to the recession but let’s look at the flip side: would these people prefer to be laid off? At least they have jobs!

When I was sixteen, I took on a weekend job in a shop. The boss I had there was firm but fair. She told us what she expected of us and we gave, in my opinion, great customer service. Some days we’d be rushed off our feet but I believe everyone who came to the shop, went away with a positive opinion of our company.

We were told to answer the telephone as quickly as possible, we were also to approach as many customers as possible just to let them know we were there if they needed any help. If there was a queue at the till, we had to stop what we were doing and serve the customers. Likewise, if we didn’t have the stock the customer wanted, we were expected to ring other branches, check the warehouse and do as much as we could to leave the customer satisfied.

However, what the great training I went through did was make me aware of how utterly terrible other people can be. My motto is “treat others how you wish to be treated” and therefore, whenever I deal with people, I try to empathise with them and put myself in their shoes. Why don’t other people?

I was in a shop today where every member of staff I encountered seemed bored or actively angry. I was coughed over (by a member of staff), ignored, had a changing room shut in front of me when I quite obviously wanted to use it, was shouted at and ended up queuing (and almost fainted) in a ten-minute queue while a girl filled shelves nearby.

What upsets me about our National Health Service is the service (or lack thereof) that I come up against whenever I have to use them. I was taken to A&E a year ago with terrible pain which turned out to be kidney stones. I sat in that waiting room for ten hours before being seen. I understand there may have been people who had worse issues than me but what I didn’t appreciate was the fact that nurses kept walking through the waiting room and refusing to make eye contact with anyone. When my mum lodged a complaint at 3am in the morning, a staff nurse sat with us and complained to us about the governmental cuts being imposed on the National Health Service and how much pressure it left them under. She told us that the walk through the waiting room was jokingly referred to as “The walk of shame”. This angered me: if it took an emergency call handler took a long time to answer the phone and then complained to the caller about cuts being imposed by the government, they’d be disciplined!

I’ve dealt with several medical receptionists and secretaries in the past few months and, bar one very helpful lady, I have encountered nothing but ignorance and rudeness.

We’re all suffering due to this recession; we’re all doing the work of several people and feeling the strain but this isn’t an excuse for antipathy. If you do the best you can, there’s no more than you can do but if you don’t put the full effort in simply because you can’t be bothered, you shouldn’t be in the job.

1 comment:

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

It's funny, I travel about to local (Chicago and subburbs) indipendent bookstore a lot. Some of them promote local authors with consignment programs, signings, reading,that fester a generally fun trendy atmosphere for the public. And they packem in. The further I move out from the city the less enthused they become with anything to do with writers or their books or the person that comes in to buy. Instead they'd rather sit and bitch about how Amazon is putting them out of buisness. I've been self employed in one way or another for most my adult life and the one thing I've learned is that when a buiness fails, it usually has more to do with the owner, staff, and locations than it does anything else. You have to know your competition before you can compeat. you have to know your clients before you can serve. And you have to want to.
good post.