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Good Customer Service Still Matters

When I call 411, the computer voice asks: “What city, please?”  I can’t stand those computer voices and do what I can to confuse them. I try my best Nordic accent and say “Reykjavik, Iceland.” Sometimes, I try a Jackie Gleason, “homina, homina, homina.”  The computer immediately transfers me to a fellow human being.

When I am the only one in the fast food restaurant and my order comes up, why do they announce on the microphone, “Number 875, your order is ready…”

When I am lost in that big box retailer and finally track down a vested employee for help, his response is usually, “That is not my department, but I think what you’re looking for is on the bottom shelf in Aisle 76B.”  They then hand me Mapquest style directions to find my way in the store.

Extraordinary customer service is more an aberration today than the normal. Some recent of these recent aberrations have really struck me.

While traveling in Schenevus, New York, I stopped in the Orief Schenevus cafe for a mid-morning snack. I was the only customer. The waitress brought me coffee and a piece of carrot cake. After she served me, she pulled the daily specials chalkboard off the wall and erased it. She drew that day’s specials with slow, painstaking effort. Vivid colors were used to attract the eye. It would all be erased tomorrow morning, but today it was her Mona Lisa.

In Georgetown one day, I stopped at a shoeshine stand to bring my dusty brown loafers back to life. The shoeshine artist was aged and bent over. A stained toothbrush cleaned the sole, new polish was applied, the shoes were rubbed with a cloth, and then finished with a brush. He worked for 10 minutes as if I were a king having his shoes shined for a coronation. When he was finished, I paid his $5 fee and gave a tip. I wondered if I insulted him with a tip – how can you pay for that kind of craftsmanship?

I was summoned for jury duty this month.  After waiting approximately two hours to see if the trial would occur, an agreement was reached by the attorneys. During the wait, my fellow jurors and I were able to watch the 1st Sgt. Lindsay Truslow jury duty stand-up routine. As Lindsay explains the circuit court process, he peppers his comments with observations about human nature and jokes about lawyers. Few of us came to jury duty looking forward to the experience and everyone left with a smile on their face.

Good customer service can be summed up as simply as one person through actions and words telling his fellow human being, I value you and I will do what I can to help you. The Lindsay Truslow stand-up show is one of many countless examples where County staff enrich the lives of our residents just by being themselves. Fast and cheap is nice. But the old cliche still rings true – it’s the thought that counts.

And, yes, I know carrot cake is not a healthy snack. Thanks for all you do.

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Submitted by Anthony Romanello.  

 

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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