Apr. 4, 2018

THE DEATH OF "THANK YOU" AND "PLEASE".

“Don’t forget to use your Manners!”  That expression certainly dates me as a child of the fifties and….I’m proud of it! Every parent I knew used that expression when their child left the house…whether it was to go next door and play, attend a meeting, go to work….or go on a date. Back-when, manners defined a person. A person’s manners---or lack of manners- spoke volumes about that person’s family.   

For almost ten years-between 1960 and 1970, I taught charm classes with an emphasis on Manners. Through the years, I’ve heard from many of my former students, asking me to consider teaching charm classes again...for their children.

Some things should never be allowed to go “out of fashion/out of style.” Traditional Manners are certainly among those“some things.” And that brings me to today’s subject.

Customer Service…which should be a top priority for every business, large or small….is almost dead.  I’m not talking about a Customer Service Department that has a robotic answering machine with a recorded menu, a robot who puts you on-hold for long minutes while you listen to insulting ads or disgusting, too-loud “music”.

I’m talking about real people in all departments of every company....I mean every paid employee who greets you at the door, from across a counter, or answers your phone calls. I'm talking about every employee within a company, being responsible for meeting every customer's needs and making every customer---a satisfied customer.  No company can succeed without a strong customer base.

A successful company of any kind is only as good as its Customer Service. Customer Service is the responsibility of every employee…..from the bathroom to the board room.

I began to sense the lack of Customer Service--on a personal basis--about nine years ago, when I moved back to Arkansas. I noticed it where I taught, where I bought groceries, and it almost slapped me in the face each time I drove through McDonald’s Drive-Through for a quick-fix meal.

Steadily, I experienced more and more attitudes and less professional service. I began to document how many times I heard: “Thank You”, “Come Again”, Thanks for stopping by, or “Hope to see you soon.” I knew Customer Service was in serious trouble when I stopped hearing my least-favorite-canned-farewell, “Have a nice day.”

Several months ago, while still in Little Rock, I had lunch with a retired Public Relations executive and shared my thoughts about The  Terminal Death of Customer Service.  He quickly reminded me that the “old” style of doing business no-longer works in today’s modern marketplace. Employees today demand to be treated as equals.  The Law will no longer “tolerate” the outdated attitude that: “The Customer Is Always Right.”  For a company to hold fast to this old way of thinking…. implies that the customer, on one side of the counter or phone…is superior, is better and smarter than the employee who is on the other side of the counter or phone.  It reeks of a slave/master scenario from the past.

 After hearing the executive’s argument…I knew I should have kept my mouth shut.  After all…his opinion was not based on experience but, rather, on Racism and Liberalism. Yes, this so-called authority on all-things-business is a diehard democrat; he is a washed-in-the-blood Clintonite.

Not long after that lesson, I crossed paths with a young black girl who had recently left McDonald’s to work for Sonic. Seems she liked working at Sonic better than her old job at McDonald’s because she didn’t have to follow a script.  When I asked “what script?”…..I was told that a black leader in Little Rock, paid by the Democratic Party, trained McDonald’s workers in how to deal with the public, especially white people. The script instructed employees to never say “thank you” or smile or... engage in friendly conversation.

The new Sonic worker mentioned that the black leader reminded  McDonald's workers it was whites who made slaves out of blacks so there’s no reason to be nice or to“thank” white people.

When all the good is gone, will life be worth living? When love, manners, truth,ethics, integrity, respect for others, and all values are dead, can any life form survive?

I suppose I'm terminal too but...because I have a habit of never-forgetting my manners....I still say Thank You.

Sally