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The Death of Customer Service

May 13th, 2023 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, if you treat me like I am a dime-a-dozen, you can kiss my business goodbye.

Shoppers Drug Mart is the latest retain chain to drive a stake into the heart of customer service. By all appearances they have joined the ranks of the “as much profit as possible while providing as little service as possible” corporations.

I dropped into a Shoppers outlet this week to pick up a couple of items. When I got to the front of the store, I discovered there was only one full-service checkout and I could only use it if I was willing to pay in cash. If I wanted to pay by debit or credit card, I had no choice but to use one of the self-service kiosks.

The message this sends to me is: We want your business but only if we do not have to work hard to get it. We prefer not to interact with you in any way. Get what you want, self-serve yourself to pay and get out. You are a transaction to us, not a customer.

I always harken back to a story told by a course instructor – I will call him Sam – a few years back when I encounter this type of situation. Sam wanted to attach something to the front door of his house. He knew he needed a special type of drill bit to drill a hole in the door. But he did not know specifically what type of bit to purchase.

Sam went to a Big Box store and explained to the teenage clerk what he needed. The clerk responded “That’s aisle 10” and walked away. Sam found his way to aisle 10 where there were several rows of drill bits. But he had no idea which one to buy.

Sam left the Big Box store and drove to the local hardware store. He explained to the friendly staff person – I will call him Joe – what he needed to do. Joe walked him to proper aisle and gave him the exact drill bit needed for the purpose.

Sam’s takeaway: Joe knew that it was not the drill bit I needed. I needed the hole in the door. Joe gave me the hole in the door.

I have no doubt that the “Serve yourself and get out” model – aka The Death of Customer Service – will continue to prevail in the big chain stores. They see us as a dime-a-dozen. Faceless nobodies with disposable income to be pried loose.

The big chain store’s vision is the automated store with no staff needed. Technology replaces customer service as it is much more cost efficient. No staff equals bigger profits. Patrons must be conditioned to interact with technology rather than with people.

I, however, whenever possible will patronize the local, owner-operated store where I am treated as a customer. Nice to see you. Yes, I can help you with that. Is there anything else you need? Thanks so much and have a nice day. I am willing to pay a little extra for service with a smile rather than be processed as a dime-a-dozen nobody.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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