THE DEATH OF BASICS.
“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 or out of style.” Traditional Manners are certainly among those “some” things. And----- that brings me to the crucial subject of "manners in business".
Customer Service--which should be a top priority for every business-- large or small….has almost died. I’m not talking about a Customer Service Department that has a robotic answering machine with a recorded menu; a robotic voice that puts you on-hold for endless minutes while you listen to insulting ads or disgusting, 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, who should be responsible for meeting every customer's needs and making every customer---a satisfied customer. No company can succeed without a strong Customer Service 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.
Personally, I began to sense the lack of Customer Service--about nine years ago, when I moved-back to Arkansas. I noticed it where I taught, where I bought groceries, and it’s absence 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 failed to hear: “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, I had lunch with a retired Public Relations executive and shared my thoughts about The Death of Customer Service. Within seconds, he was lecturing me; informing me: “ The "old” style of doing business no-longer works in today’s modern marketplace. Today’s Employees demand to be treated as equals. The Law will no longer “tolerate” the outdated attitude that: “The Customer Is Always Right.” For any 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-- on the other side of the counter or phone. Such an attitude reeks of a slave/master scenario from the past... and will not be allowed."
After hearing the executive’s argument---I realized 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 has always been a diehard democrat. Since his teenage years…this “executive” has been a washed-in-the-blood CLINTONITE.
Not long after that useless luncheon, I crossed paths with a young black girl who'd 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 she meant by a “script”—she was more-than-happy to tell me about a local black leader from Little Rock who was well- paid to train McDonald’s workers on "how to deal with the public”---most-particularly--- white people. The Black Leader’s printed lessons instructed McDonald’s employees to: NEVER SAY THANK YOU; NEVER SMILE; NEVER ENGAGE IN FRIENDLY CONVERSATION.
The new SONIC worker said The Black Leader reminded All MCDONALD’S Workers that—historically-- WHITE PEOPLE MADE SLAVES OUT OF ALL BLACKS THEREFORE…THERE WAS NO REASON TO BE NICE OR TO THANK WHITE PEOPLE—FOR ANYTHING.
When all the good is gone, will life still be worth-living? When love, manners, truth, ethics, integrity, respect for others, and all values are dead--- will any form of life still exist?
I suppose I'm old-fashioned. I will never-stop using manners even when those-- still-around--treat me like I’m crazy. And… I will keep SMILING.