Customers Sure Are Inconvenient

Then: I opened a new bank account, small though it was. They smiled and thanked me as though I just deposited a million dollars, then handed me a colorful set of coffee mugs to thank me for my business. I looked forward to coming in each week, speaking with the friendly tellers, and watching the interest grow.

Now: I bank without ever seeing a human. Interest? It’s almost a joke. Instead, there are all kinds of fees to worry about. “Convenience” fees they call them. It’s a relatively new phenomenon in which customers fork over money for the convenience of forking over money. It’s not just the banks, but a wide variety of services that are employing these tactics.

Then: I had favorite stores and businesses, places where I had a relationship and knew I’d be treated well.

Now: I have almost no connection, no human association, and no loyalty to one business over another. Customers are discouraged from speaking with real live human beings on the phone or from actually entering businesses and taking up their valuable time. Customers have become quite inconvenient, it seems.

Then there’s the cashier who is texting or talking on the phone while waiting on you, but customers are just as guilty of that one. Or the sales clerk who doesn’t bother to look up from the newspaper even though you’re the only customer in the store. And how about the front line customer service reps who have not been properly trained and can only read from a script, even when that script bears no resemblance to the situation at hand? Self check out, voice mail menus with endless prompts and pointless tasks, messages that go unanswered, the cold brush-off…

I’m not one to go on about the good old days because I’m keenly aware of selective memory and our tendency to romanticize yesteryear. It wasn’t all rosy then and it’s not all bad now, but one thing is certain — customer service once meant something more.

Rather than focus only on the money customers would spend on this particular day, there was a time when businesses valued long-term relationships, striving to keep us coming back for more. They achieved this by making connections. A little friendly chatter and a helpful attitude go a long way. There was a human face on the business at hand.

So conditioned am I to receiving poor customer service these days, that when I get good service, I feel compelled to Facebook it or tweet it as if it’s a major news event. Most importantly, good, friendly service truly does make me want to patronize that business.

Businesses, please…if you really want customers to sit up and take notice, take that convoluted voice mail system and banish it to the fires of hell. Surprise us by having a human answer the phone, and provide that human with the training necessary to represent your business in its best light. Speak with your customers. Look them in the eye on occasion. Stop hitting them up with nonsense fees and wondering why they’re so angry. Thank them for their business. It just may be the single most important marketing tool at your disposal. Customers are not inconveniences. They’re your bread and butter.

Image copyright: iStockphoto collection/Thinkstock


Tammy Baxter
Tammy B5 years ago


Zuzana K.
Zuzana K6 years ago

This is so true. It destroys a sense of human community but also things like banks now charging for humans (saying on internet it's free) and such things are so bad for the employees - I feel so badly for the cashiers in supermarkets who are declining because robotic self scan checkouts are replacing them :,(

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe6 years ago

I get so irritated when you call a company and it is an automated system with menus to choose from and all you want to do is ask one question. My husband taught me if you hit 0 a few times, someone will eventually come on the line. It works - sometimes.

Patricia A.
P A6 years ago

My favourite companies still treat me as a human being - and I have got to know people who work there over the years - it really matters to me. I regularly phone up and thank people when things have arrived in the post faster than it was thought they would. Mind you, if you want to complain to a large company you have to be prepared for a long-drawn out, no holds barred fight - as emails and phone calls are useless - the larger the company the more they ride roughshod over people.

Sandi C.
Sandi C6 years ago


tammy B.
tammy B6 years ago

Thank you for the article! I worked in customer service for a long time and also had my own I know what it is to be on that side of the phone. I also have been a customer on the other side (Verizon, T-Mobile to name a few are not my favorite companies for customer service). It is hard to give good service when customers are abusive, or your company deprives you of the tools you need to provide good customer service. Guess who was my most abusive and rude customer? Yep, a US Senator....go figure

Marie V
Marie V6 years ago

At one of our local fast food stores (I know, *gasp* fast food) they implemented a system where the computer asks for a name when they take the order. The weekday lunch crew is so awesome - they will almost always remember your name if you go there "frequently" (I can go weeks without going and still be remembered). And it's not just the cashier, but also the managers that collect the food and put it on the tray.

Also, when I was there recently with my 5 year old and newborn (in a carrier) - they noticed that my hands were a little full and asked if they could bring the food to the table for me.

They have amazing customer service. At lunch at least :-)

Ashley L.
Ashley L6 years ago

As a person who works in a customer service call center let me clarify a few things.
1) We do not always work from a script. We do, however, work from experience. When I suggest that you try something, look at something, or check something it is because your issue, although new to you, is probably not all that new to me and I do know how to help you resolve it.
2) Talking over me or interrupting me is not going to help you get anywhere with our department. When I answer the telephone and greet you do not immediately blurt out your name, address, telephone number, account number, etc. I do not need all of your information up front and even if I do need it I am human and can only type so fast which means I will be asking you to repeat yourself. Be patient and say hello. It will go a lot smoother if you are patient.
3) Remember, you reap what you sow. If you are rude, demanding, or impatient with us it is very hard to smile and be kind and patient with you. Also, we are human and have feelings which means if you yell, swear, or call us names it does hurt and we are far less likely to want to go "above and beyond" for you.

Berny P.
berny p6 years ago


Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran6 years ago