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Alonzo Weston

Alonzo Weston

No one ever thinks about customer service until they have a bad experience with it.

There are horror stories galore and countless rants about automated customer service: too many prompts, incorrect information, non-personable service, rudeness.

Similar horror stories abound about in-person customer service, as well. Rudeness always leads this list, followed by slowness and incompetence.

Many people, myself included, complain about today’s young people not being able to count back change without the cash register telling them.

If you remember, most of us oldies learned to count back change from our parents sending us to the neighborhood grocery store to buy food and other items. If we didn’t bring back the correct change, we had to take that embarrassing walk back to the store to get the rest of the money or order or whatever.

Neighborhood grocery stores have become as extinct as dinosaurs. Kids or young adults today were never sent to the neighborhood store. By the time they came of age, big-box grocery stores like Walmart and Costco proliferated neighborhoods and cities. Parents drove them to these stores so they never had the experience of shopping alone or counting back change.

I’ve heard the flip side of these horror stories told by customer service workers, as well. Rude, hateful customers, thieves and fights over items at Christmas are just a few of the issues.

I bring this all up because the week of Oct. 4 to 8 is Customer Service Week, an international celebration of the importance of customer service and the people who serve customers daily.

U.S. Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event to be celebrated the first full week of October. Each year, thousands of companies worldwide celebrate Customer Service Week.

Different organizations celebrate the week in different ways. Some have weeklong extravagant celebrations and others have simple coffee and cake celebrations.

My mother worked most of her life in customer service. She became well-known for doing so, and to this day, people still remember her as a friendly, courteous cashier. People would rather wait in a long line for her register than move over to an open line because they wanted Mom to wait on them. Mom has long been retired, but people still come up to me praising my mother as a customer service worker.

Not many people can work in customer service. I know it would be hard for me to run a store cash register. I have a short temper and a low tolerance for rudeness, so I’d probably be fired the first day after punching someone in the nose.

I sort of work in customer service in my retirement by delivering pizzas. People are always kind to me and often tip me well for my deliveries. I’ve never had a bad experience.

Anyone can celebrate Customer Service Week. For starters, be kind and courteous to someone who serves you. Tip workers for good service and respect the fact that people in customer service are people too.

Don’t be a customer horror story.

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