Too Much Customer Service
I walked into my Regions Bank the other day. Before I could stroll the twenty feet to get to the one teller at the one open window, three employees greeted me. The thing is, I was focused on my destination, of course, so I never saw who, exactly, was calling out Good Morning. Naturally, I glanced around quickly to see who was accosting me, but they'd all gone back to whatever they'd been doing before I walked in. Apparently it's a one-sided event. They never really expected me to return the greeting. In fact, I later found out that one of the greeters was in an alcove, sitting behind a desk. Was I really expected to spot him and greet him back?
Please say no.
It felt like entering a Blockbuster. Clerks there are trained to shout out greetings, but a contact is never actually made. They may as well have speakers spewing out random greetings, for as personal as the thing is.
At the bank, one of those three did, in fact, come up to me as I waited for the teller. "How are you today?" was his second greeting. Since we were actually eye-to-eye, I figured he did want a response. Of course I, um, shared my feelings with him. Being bombarded with greetings from people who aren't engaged with me just feels confusing and annoying. I'm left standing in the middle of the room, frantically looking around for the verbal snipers.
The guy said it's a security measure. It's a way of saying We see you, buster! to the valued customer ... er, to the potential crook, I mean.
On my way out, another of the original three male greeters reminded me to take a cookie and a carnation, it being Mother's Day soon. That gave me another opportunity to snarl at someone for making me search for the source(s) of disembodied greetings. When I said that his cohort had told me it was an anti-theft procedure, he said, "Yeah? Really? He told you that?" Well, dang. Have they added lying to their list of services?
And then at Publix today, Mrs. X asked a clerk where the Y was, but then Mrs. X saw it and said, "Oh! Never mind!" While the clerk was still in Customer Service Mode, I said, "Tuna?" The clerk started to say something and then shifted herself and put down her pricing machine and said, "Follow me!" and took off.
I called after her, "Just give me the aisle number!" but she pooh-poohed that idea, saying over her shoulder, "They want us to bring the customer to the spot."
Well, gee. I don't like feeling that I'm interrupting someone's job, especially since I hate to be interrupted. I also don't want to be zoomed along the aisles. There's nothing faster than a clerk leading me to the proper spot. And maybe I knew I needed Aisle Six for olives and Aisle Seven for mayonnaise, so if tuna is in Aisle Eight, I'd stop for those others first, so just give me a number, don't lead the expedition.
I wonder if "they," who want employees to escort customers to the toothpicks, have ever asked "us" what we want? Maybe they have. But we know for sure that they haven't asked me.
You hear about marketing research and focus groups and things, but I wonder if the results of those are ever actually used?
When I visit Leone at Condescension Acres, the piped-in music is, well, I think it might be classified as swing, but maybe not. I'm not sure. Leone says it's aimed at the ninety-year-olds. It makes her livid that it's in all the public spaces. And of course it's too loud because that's a law when you're dealing with Old Folks.
But what gets me is that (1) they act as if everyone is ninety-seven, and (2) as if everyone who's ninety-seven likes the same kind of music. What're the odds of that?
What really scares me, of course, is that when I'm enjoying my Golden Years down at The Home, I'll be subjected to Jimi Hendrix in the hallways, blasting the hearing aids right out of my head. But I won't want Peter, Paul and Mary, either.
I ordered Playing For Change's new CD/DVD the same day that Liz tucked a copy of it into my mailbox. When mine came, I offered it to Mike who, unbelievably, doesn't like love and peace and all that. Who can not like Keb Mo'? Who can not like Clarence Bekker? The point is -- big surprise -- very few people share musical tastes.
Maybe the motto is If you can't please everybody, don't please anybody.
The music above the coolers in a convenience store this morning was classical. I couldn't believe it. A dark man named Mo claimed responsibility for it. Way to go, Mo!
Well, if we've got Keb Mo' and Convenience Mo, let's have Mike's cat Mo. I woke up this morning to find that Mo had shed his blue collar. I eventually found it on the couch in the living room, which is Mittens's territory. That means either that Mittens beat Mo up and ripped off his clothes in an attempt to humiliate him further, or that Mittens watched with cold eyes while Mo wrestled himself out of the collar. One day last week, I found Mo with his head and one leg poking out of the collar. That can't have been comfortable. And the other night, I was sleepily adjusting the bedding with my legs when I realized that it wasn't the sheets I was shifting at all. It was Mo.