Thursday, December 9, 2010

Consumer Training: A Revolution of Manners

I'm not blogging as often because I'm writing elsewhere nowadays. It's funny to read my "in a rut" blogs with my short stories going nowhere near to where I would want them to and now I'm tell you I'm writing my first book.

I know. What the fuck? (I purposely did not abbreviate. I strongly believe in owning words-not acronyms. Especially fuck. It's so insulting to fuck to not properly use fuck.)

But yes, a book.

I still kinda laugh when I say it out loud or when I write it in a catch-up facebook comment or email. You gotta be patient with me in this whole ownership of something quite epic in my life.

A book.

My book.

My first book.

It's like that episode in "How I Met Your Mother" when Ted talks about the fact that if you say a word enough times it can easily become strange and odd. Ted used "bowl." "Book" is mine.

Now this book. I'm sure you've heard of it. For probably the only time (or perhaps until book two) I sent out a message to my entire friend list. Granted, I'm no 500 owner of "friends" on facebook, but roughly with around 300, I announced my call to action.

Service is hell.

Consumers (I'm convinced) are the Devil's angels.

You know how often it's said "People are dumb; a person is intelligent. People are chaotic; a person can rationalize." Etc., etc.

I see consumers along the same line. Dumb, chaotic, devilish, demon-like crowds of awfulness. You give people money and time and entitlement-and you get consumers.

You let people milk "The customer's always right" and you, too, will eventually cry on the clock. Perhaps yell, but most times because you're still so trained to keep it all in, the emotional system ignites the tear ducts instead.

Something has to be released-a major side effect of the human condition.


Consumers do not get this equation. Hence, the whole "hell on earth" bit.

I imagine that to them, the customer service industry is made up of clever, little vending machines that wear aprons, visors, and black/white polos with khaki.

Memo to all employers: khaki makes NObody happy. Step ten in my revolution is to burn all employee-owned khakis.


first thing's first.

With a month so far starting this book and starting this academic journey I want to articulate this: treat others the way you want to be treated. It's simple. It's so simple that I'm sure-no-I know I will get many people upset, and why?

Because I'm calling everyone out on the simplest known humane fact. We learned this in kindergarten peeps. 5 years old! or 6!

Come on.

That's what will motivate any backlash to my book, the idea of someone telling you that you forgot something so damn easy.

I really don't know where we lost ourselves. Is it that as we get older it's harder to say thank you? Or please?

When we age do we forget common courtesy? Is it connected to money? Selfishness? or Power?

I'm asking all these questions to myself every day, and to my interviewees as we meet and really sit down to talk about this mess we call "customer service."

As usual, someone has to clean this up. And naturally, it's going to be the employees.

Get ready consumers-

you're getting trained.

(I think I just found my title...)


The Write Owl said...

First off, you should read Tim Gunn's etiquette book: Gunn's Golden Rules. It changed my life.

And second, I would read, reread, and pass this book around to all of my friends, because consumer bullies are the hip new trend, and it makes me want to chuck pieces of pottery at my painters.

Good luck!

-Jean aka Alex's cousin

Elise said...

Having worked in the coffee industry for a little over five years, I understand where you are coming from and what you feel! No "please," no "thank you," and a general attitude of, "you are here to help ME and give ME what I need and to give it to ME when I request it."
However, I have to point out and draw attention to the fact that not every customer is like this. As a consumer, I go out of my way to be nice to the people in the khaki, and I'm not the only one. In my five years, along with the bad manners, I also experienced a lot of good manners, and a lot of nice people.
Lets not forget them, and please, in your book, acknowledge their existence, because they are the ones who make it tolerable.
My boyfriend (also in the coffee industry) once started chatting to a woman who had sweet potatos in her grocery bag, and mentioned how much he liked sweet potato pie. Well that happened to be what she was making,and you know what? She brought him a pie later that night! And while thats a rare occasion, it does happen. It's not always bad :)

Andrea Galvez said...

oh trust me elise, they will be mentioned. so many of my regulars have become great spontaneous friends in my heart. without the good ones, I wouldn't be able to tell how bad the bad ones are. this book is more so about voices behind the counter. the ones who most are trained to be silent or "courtesy," I want to empower them with a chance to be loud and to talk and to let things be heard about what it's really like to help people everyday. I want this book to be a humorous, heart-felt, and educational journey for the common consumer. I am so grateful to others who have been in this customer service industry with me that I write this book as my grand "thank you" and my "hey, you're important. no matter how small or big your service, it affects many lives in many days." I will not bitch, there's no point. Perhaps in a funny way to break the ice with many upset readers because no one likes to be told "hey, you're rude". This project is a humanitarian effort to give others a glimpse into a world that makes up SO much of our economy. I will end the book on a good note, because in the end, I believe in the good in people. Employees and customers alike. I'm just letting one side, finally, get their turn to talk-honestly. (again, I promise-this novel is no whine-fest) :)

Andrea Galvez said...

by the way. I would love to interview you and scott if you would let me :)

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