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August 21, 2009


“It’s Not My Department” Rewind

by Marge Laney

by Marge Laney

I just re-read the late Peter Glenn’s book, “It’s Not My Department.”  What a hoot.  The book was written and published in the late ‘80’s, and is a litany of service faux pas and customer apathy.  He called us a “nation of whiners”; that we try to top each other’s horror stories of service, and our national anthem is “It’s Not My Department.” He said that we needed to stop whining and start fighting. He also said, “Service is the hottest subject in business right now, but most of the service is lip service, not customer service.” That was twenty years ago, and it’s still the hottest subject in business right now…

Two things have changed during those twenty years; the infiltration of service technology, and the smiley face.  Lousy service was and still is the service provider’s way of saying No and in the past was emphasized with shrugs, sneers, snips, and snubs.  Today the shrugs, sneers, snips, and snubs have been replaced with the smiley face.  You still get the same lousy service they just smile while they’re saying it and tell you to “have a nice day” when they’re finished.

And while computerized service technology was in its infancy back in the late 80’s and was the cause of a lot of bad service experiences, the bugs have been worked out to a great extent but the service failures still abound.  I just switched from one very large bank to a smaller local bank.  I was tired of being submerged into automated telephone answering hell every time I had a question about a transaction.    I especially hated the cheery voice recognition fellow that attempted to change my mind about what I was looking for.  I often found myself screaming “No, that’s not what I mean, you _______!” into the phone. He always said he was sorry, but I didn’t believe it!

Anyway, I was worried that it might be risky changing to a local bank because I do most of my banking online and although I really like the face to face people connection when I go to the bank, I wondered how this might translate to their online experience.  My worries were justified, but for a surprisingly different reason.  When I called in I actually got a live person.  The problem, however, was that the person on the other end of the phone was a throwback to the 80’s; sneery, snippy, and snubby, all the while telling me “No!”  She did, however, tell me to “Have a nice day”J.  I’d rather talk to a machine.

© Alert Technologies, Inc.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Aug 30 2010

    Found out your website via live search the other day and absolutely think its great. Keep up this fantastic work.


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