Common courtesy is all too uncommon

Kathy Lilje
Aug 13, 2014

 

One thing that no old lady wants to sound like is an old lady. We might not be able to control the aging of our bodies, but we should be able to control the aging of our minds.

That being said, I’m going to go off on a tangent here that clearly will mark me as an old lady. It has to do with a little thing calledcustomer service, also known as common courtesy.

I’m a pretty easy customer to get along with. I realize the tough jobs that waitpersons and clerks have. I know they deal with unfriendly and argumentative customers on a daily basis, but I’m not one of them and, I don’t think the bad mood caused by a combative customer should spill over onto my transaction.

I think the fault lies not so much with the clerks or waitstaff, but with training given to employees. I might go to half a dozen stores or restaurants before I hear someone say “thank you” In fact, I’m often the only one expressing gratitude. I’ll say thank you to a person running a cash register, only to have that person offer no reply or say, “no problem”

I should think it’s no problem to have someone select the wares your employer is trying to sell. The customers’ purchases are what is paying the checkers’ wages. The comment “No problem” makes it seem like it actually is a problem, but the checker is graciously overlooking the inconvenience of waiting on you.

“Thank you” is the right thing to say. Anything less means either you don’t care about the customer or you don’t care about the employer’s mission to satisfy the customer.

While I’m on the subject, let’s talk about the people who do it right.

I don’t think I have ever gone to Kroger or Aldi without being greeted in the checkout line and thanked for my business. As a result, those two stores get most of my grocery business. The products and prices in other supermarkets are about the same; the only difference is customer service.

In places such as restaurants, where servers depend on tips, the prevailing attitude is often much friendlier.

I think having to grovel or gush insincerely is demeaning and I would never expect anyone to have to do it. Efficient service and, again, common courtesy are plenty. Waiters should not be held accountable for food you don’t like, but they should freely relay any problems to the chef or the management.

On the flip side, diners should realize the wage structure of most restaurants assumes a certain percentage of tips will be added to the check. Stiffing a waitress is an act of ignorance, if not hostility.

I guess my old lady lecture comes down to just one sentence you all know — “Do unto others. . ”

See you next week.