Remember Customer Service?

istockphoto.com

istockphoto.com

How old am I? Well sir, let’s just say that I’m old enough to remember when businesses actually took care of their customers. You know—customers? The folks with the wallets and pocketbooks?  

It may seem quaint now, but there was a time when just about every interaction you had at a shop, restaurant, or supermarket wasn’t just tolerable but actually pleasurable.

This was a simpler time. A happier time. A time when filling stations were staffed by attendants who wore crisp uniforms with their names stitched onto the breast and who would greet you warmly, check your oil and tires—without being asked—and then kiss you on the mouth before sending you on your way.

Just try and find that kind of service today!

Or how about a hardware store staffed by salesmen (yes, I said it—men) who knew the difference between a hex wrench and a torque wrench and who also knew how to pay attention, to be able to distinguish between a routine licking of the lips and a meaningful one? Real men, with ropy forearms and dirt under their nails and undershirts that smelled faintly of bay rum aftershave?

Today we have Home Depot—a sprawling, sterile place where I am apparently ‘no longer welcome.’

Well, those guys and their hardware stores are long gone. Today we have Home Depot—a sprawling, sterile place where I am apparently “no longer welcome.”

Here’s another one for you: Time was, buying shoes didn’t mean “surfing the net.” No, sir. Buying shoes meant walking into an actual shoe store—imagine that!—and chatting with actual shoe salesmen who would measure your feet, help you slip into a pair of shoes, and do that thing where they press down on the toe of the shoe to see how much room you have in there. Heck—if you went there often enough, they probably knew not just your name but also where you lived and which night your wife went out bowling for a solid two and a half hours and how to make you feel like you were the only guy in the world.

Think you’ll find that sort of personal attention online? Think again.

Do you like meat? Hoo, boy. Let me tell you a little story. Back about a thousand years ago, you wouldn’t dream of going to a huge grocery store for steaks and chops shrink-wrapped on foam trays. You would go to a butcher shop—and the fella behind the counter (i.e. the butcher!) would actually know his way around a side of beef.

When a guy like that leaned over the display case and asked, “See anything you like?” and you replied, “Oh, I sure do,” well, you’d better believe that he knew exactly what you meant and shared your view that often talk just got in the way.

Also he’d give you a little something for your pooch—on the house.

Even the humble cup of joe has been ruined. Before we had fancy coffee chains selling overpriced mocha-whatevers, you bought your coffee at a diner—”greasy spoons,” we called ‘em—where you would sit at the counter, slap down a dollar bill, and steal a glance at the busboy, who knew better than to clear your cup and saucer before you’d left and also understood that it’s not always about the orgasm, that sometimes you just want to be held.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering? Yeah. Refills were free.

Perhaps you’ve heard that old saying, “the customer is king”? Try telling that to the punk at Jamba Juice who, when you stroke his hand while taking your change, goes running like a baby to his manager.

Hey, Jamba Juice—I’m not paying seven dollars for a Kale-ribbean Breeze smoothie just so I can stand around watching people have hushed conversations about me.

In fact, this goes for every single owner, manager, or employee reading this: When I patronize your business, I expect some dignity. Some warmth. Some humanity, for crying out loud, and also a little playful tickling.

Is that too much to ask?