Service with a Smile

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Jun 22, 2011

by Lianne Castelino

How I wonder, I wonder, I wonder???  Isn't there a song with that line in it?

There is such a phenomenal amount of attention paid to it when you call about your bills and hear a voice saying something along the lines of “this call may be monitored for quality assurance purposes.” Or you are looking for a new product in a furniture store, for example, and several eager beaver salespeople swoop down on you like flies to a ____.  Everyone breathlessly interested in your well-being.  Translation, they may be genuinely interested in your happiness but chances are they are eyeing the commisson/sale, the potential monetary reward attached with your presence. 

We are all so fixated on customer service these days.  Except for one thing — no one can seem to deliver it.

Why exactly is this so complicated?

As a parent, customer service for me is really basic common courtesy, isn't it?  Saying please and thank you, waving an acknowledging hand as a driver when given a courtesy, smiling once in a while like you mean it, holding doors open for strangers, etc. 

Aren't we trying to teach this to our kids?

It is becoming increasingly hard to teach this to children when the behaviour being displayed is, for the most part, the exact opposite of polite, courteous, humane.

Technology has a lot to do with why we are seemingly so scattered, preoccupied, rude, and self-absorbed.  Cell phones, while a wonderful tool, make me crazy where this topic is concerned.  Interrupted calls, two conversations at the same time, call display, call answer, hands-free — it all adds up to too much at once, which usually keeps manners by the wayside.

Children aren't dumb.  They see this.  If witnessed often enough, they model  this behaviour and suddenly you have a healthy dose of disrespect and rudeness to contend with at home.

I am most certainly guilty of cell phone conversations in front of my kids.  However, I now check myself on an ongoing basis so as not to be sidetracked.  I will regularly say, “sorry I can't talk now” or “can I call you right back.”   

We might be the only people on the planet that don't have call display or call answer (got rid of this years ago after a short stint) for this very reason.  It smacks of rudeness.

It can be challenging to model mannerly behaviour in a veritable sea of impoliteness, but don't stop.  Hopefully the tide will turn, the pendulum swing to the other side and civility, as an expert I spoke to on this topic recently called it, will be the “in thing” once again.



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