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Archive for December 10, 2006

Dec. 9, 2006 — Adventures in the service sector

In the general shift of our economy from an emphasis on manufacturing to one based on service, I wondered how some services can stay in business treating their customers as shoddily as they do.

Take, for instance, the fast-food industry. When you are greeted at some places, the employees don’t look you in the eye and prompt you when they are ready for you to take an order. They assume the moment you pause in your order that you’re finished, and they don’t bother to ask if you want anything else (i.e., the upsizing that has made McDonald’s an industrial giant). Instead, the upsizing and the greeting sometimes is combined in the two words, “Want combo.”

That comes from the way that drive-through windows have operated since the first one opened in 1971. Today’s call-box uses a sensor in the ground which alerts a cash-register operator who should answer the call. But some restaurants have used pre-taped voices to answer the customer, which is quite annoying when the second voice of the actual cashier breaks in.

More recently, however, some restaurant employees don’t even bother with a proper greeting, opening the mike and saying, “Hel-lo!” in a condescending manner.

Others don’t bother to lean out of the drive-through window, expecting the customer to reach all the way in to complete the transaction.

If that sounds familiar, you’ve probably been on an airline when you’ve been treated shabbily by personnel, especially by the Transportation Security Administration.

Every time I hear stories of grandmothers being strip-searched or children separated from their parents by TSA minions, I often wonder if these people have ever been reminded who they work for, or who pays their salaries.

Perhaps a gentle reminder every four years or so (or perhaps every two years if you’re an engaged voter) is what’s needed.

Too bad restaurants can’t be voted out of office.

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