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All my pickles are in a big pile

  • Published
  • By Maj. James Blackman
  • 56th Component Maintenance Squadron
Recently, we decided as a family to run through the fast food restaurant near our house since it was late and we wanted something quick for dinner. When we got home and everyone was starting to eat, my daughter remarked as she checked her hamburger that all the pickles were in a pile in the center of the bun. I took the opportunity and made it a teaching moment for my four children, that no matter how insignificant the task appeared, it was important to do it right.

I have found myself noticing more and more these instances of cutting corners and a general downturn in good customer service. When I talk to friends and co-workers about bad service, it is often explained away as a sign of the times. Is the poor service really because some companies have had to cut back and can't afford to hire the people it takes to have good service, or have they changed their policies in order to save a buck and left customer service out of the equation.

If you're like me, you notice, and you know what good service looks and feels like. When you find a place that recognizes the true value of good customer service - you want to give them your business; you are willing to pay a little extra for the good service you get.

Good customer service is not simply giving a quick smile and being polite when you interact with people; it's much more than that. It's an attitude that the customer personally matters to your business or company, not just in the big picture, but as in each and every one matters - individually. I want to be listened to and understood as to what I need, and not just given a cookie cutter answer or response; don't read to me from an approved list of answers to common questions. After I get through the phone tree of press "2" for this and press "5" for that, and finally get to talk with a real person I don't want to still feel like I'm talking to a computer.

In my opinion, good customer service is largely about being professional, about knowing your job, and doing it your best every time. Even my children recognize there is something missing when they order a hamburger and all the pickles are in one big pile in the middle of the bun. It may sound silly, but I think we can all relate to feeling a little cheated when a fast food order is not done in a professional manner with good customer service in mind. All the smiles and politeness are quickly forgotten if what I ordered isn't what's in the bag.

How are you at customer service?

This isn't intended to be an article that just complains about the service out there, but a reminder that every time you get bad service is a chance to reflect on how you're doing. We all have customers. No matter what part of the mission you have a piece of, you have a customer who is depending on you to know your job, and take pride in doing it right every time especially when no one is looking or you think no one will notice. Don't allow yourself or your section to use the excuse that we don't have the people anymore or that we can't afford it. Good customer service is part of being professional, and we aren't about to stop being professional about what we do. So take a minute today to reflect on your customer, who they are and what they need.

Have you asked for feedback on how you are doing? Are you pushing yourself to get better personally and looking for areas your section can improve in too? It's up to each of us every day to make the commitment to be professional and all that really means and to make sure we are not the ones putting all the pickles in one big pile.