Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Where's the customer service?...

Posted 5/22/18 (Tue)

There’s a subject that comes up occasionally that tends to be a sore spot for some folks, but it keeps resurfacing so maybe something should be said and done about it.

It’s customer service, or the lack of it that becomes the topic of discussion. It doesn’t matter what kind of exchange of personalities you’re talking about, there needs to be some kind of “customer service” in order to establish a trust.

Right from the top, it needs to be mentioned there are many businesses and organizations in North Dakota that go out of their way to welcome you and those people are to be commended because they get it.

Others do not and it’s those few oddballs that spoil it for everyone.

It could be pharmacist to customer, grain elevator employee to farmer, government to taxpayer; whatever the relationship might be, most of the friction in these relationships is manufactured.

What ever happened to “the customer is always right? Even if the customer is wrong, the customer is right!”

There are employees in the public eye who refuse to talk about anything, some refuse to say “can I help you,” others don’t say thanks when you make a transaction and leave your money in their till.

I had a situation in Minot where a young female cashier didn’t make eye contact and didn’t say a word during the transaction and as soon as the sale was completed, she went to filing her fingernails.

There are places that provide absolutely the minimum they can so they “have their bases covered.”

Still others, who work in the fast food industry, apparently are programmed to do one thing, build every hamburger the same way whether you request something different or not. 

Naming names here wouldn’t be appropriate, but instead of pointing fingers, perhaps the question should be, why does customer service seem to be lacking so much in numerous North Dakota locations?

Have you traveled out of state recently? My wife and I have and in all the places we’ve been in the past year, we have been treated very well no matter what the encounter might have been.

This includes gas stations in Wyoming, pizza joints in South Dakota, upscale restaurants in Colorado, hardware stores in Nebraska, gift shops in Minnesota, clothing stores in Florida, a baseball game in Arizona and a communication business in Saskatchewan; they all treated this customer in a manner that would want said customer to do more business in that location in the future.

There are six places of business in North Dakota that I refuse to enter because the customer service is so bad. There isn’t a snowball’s chance in Tucson I’ll spend another dime there. I will go out of my way to go elsewhere to shop and get the same products.

As far as I’m concerned, those people don’t want or need my business and won’t get it from this day forward.

But you’re right, my money isn’t going to make or break these six businesses. It’s a blatant lack of professionalism. Why should I patronize a business that is going to treat me like garbage?

I wonder sometimes if new employees get any kind of training that addresses customer service? Does management even care about this? I’m sure I’m not the only customer who feels this way.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”

It’s very true. A little kindness can go a long way. Making small talk can go a long way. Being informed about the product you’re selling can go a long way in making that sale.

Not making eye contact or not saying thank you, does not.

If we connect the dots, a lot of this was precipitated by the oil boom. Businesses were overwhelmed with customers, employees weren’t getting paid enough to pay their own bills, so a sort of carelessness developed and has apparently spread elsewhere.

Those in management who care about their customers should seriously consider this question, where’s the customer service?”

Customer service is paramount in any businesses and I’m going to say it again that a lot of businesses and organizations in the state go out of their way to accommodate their customers.

Unfortunately, it may be a disgruntled employee, it may be a manager who actually thinks he/she doesn’t need that customer’s business or it could be a corporate structure that is driven more by today’s profit than earning repeat customers.