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December 18, 2008

From the Publisher's Desk: Customer service is a lost art

'Tis the season to be jolly.

That thought, expressed in the Christmas carol "Deck The Halls," certainly has not been evident in my experience this year.

Whether it is the reality of our current economic times or the stress of finding the perfect gift, customer service has seemed to fall by the wayside.

Certainly I cannot claim that The Daily Star has always had the most stellar reputation in this area, but each phone call, e-mail or inquiry gives us the opportunity for better service than the last.

My team knows I expect phones to be answered by the third ring with a pleasant identifying greeting, and voice mails are to be returned in a timely manner.

We have standards that run throughout our organization as benchmarks to provide the service our clients should expect and _ quite frankly _ what we should provide.

I know the concept is basic, yet my experience over the last few weeks has left me wondering, why does customer service no longer seem to be a focal point?

Standing in line at a store while waiting to check out, I was behind a woman toting an armful of items.

We started talking about the clerk behind the counter. His sheer rudeness was shocking. Knowing the owners of the shop, I knew this was not how they wanted their business represented.

The clerk could not be bothered and was huffing and slamming items on the counter because the computerized register had not logged a sale price properly.

I commented to the woman in front of me that it wasn't a big deal to correct the problem, and she nodded in agreement.

The customer checking out had an appalled look as the clerk continued his tantrum. You could tell that she was biting back a response, and I must say, she was far more tolerant and patient with the clerk's tirade than I might have been.

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