Opinion – Can Today’s Generation Provide Good Service?

How can “kids” brought up with immediate access to information and short attention spans provide the service experience our “older” generation expects? Good question…

I remember watching old black and white movies where the “old guys”, sitting in front of the barber shop, would complain about the kids of today not having the same respect for others or the work ethic as they did. And they may, or may not, be right. But I bet that every generation has said the same about the up and coming kids.

It happens with the style of clothes and music too…remember your parents complaining about your rock-&-roll music?

So, is it realistic that those accustomed to “fine dining” or the steps-of-service from high-end retailers should expect the same from people who have never experienced this same level of service? Probably not…

Today’s society has changed in many ways; here are some examples:

  • The days of casually purchasing a ticket with cash on board a commuter train, while deep in conversation with a friend, are over. Now you must fumble with your credit card at an automated kiosk. Better not be late for your train…
  • The neighborhood barber shop, in most areas, where you can get a shave and great conversation, has been replaced with cold ‘high-end salons” where you pay top dollar for a basic cut (and the trendiest) or a low-end fresh-out-of- beauty-school haircutter. Either way, the experience is no longer personal or special.
  • Elderly supermarket shoppers rarely have access to someone that can assist them to their car with their groceries.
  • Theme restaurants, more interested in moving customers in and out quickly, have installed table-top units where you can order food or drink and pay your bill. Yes, this is a novel approach to service but totally removes the personal interaction of the server. But they still want a 20% tip…go figure!

Another example is the recent efforts to raise the minimum wage for fast food or retail employees. As many cities have enacted laws to raise the wage to as high as $15 per hour, how does this affect the service provided?

Can we expect employees to provide the same service, when the “incentive”, based on earning more through commission on goods sold, is removed versus those with a “guaranteed” higher wage?

Author’s note: for this article I failed to find noted research to validate either side of this argument.

But, I do remember when I worked in commission-based industries. I had reason to smile more, a reason to be more attentive, a reason to ensure I went above and beyond for the customer. The reason was money! As I worked more I earned more.

When you take that incentive away we can only hope their personality and upbringing has provided a “servant leader” mindset to replace it.

Today’s young employees, brought up in a “fast food society”, don’t expect to go to great lengths to please a customer. They have no reference point to measure from. Their incentive is their cell phone and the latest social media blurb, not the smile from a customer.

In the end, where does this leave us? Can great service still be provided?

For those of us that continually tout the need for, and the benefits of, great service we must realize that service, as a society, changes. We must expect a level of discontent from those expecting a 5 star level of service from a person or business not able to, or interested in, providing such.

My recommendation: continue to frequent those businesses that make you, as the customer, feel special, feel appreciated and provide a fair price and product.

They deserve your continued business and loyalty…

Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on SteveDiGioia and is featured here with Author permission.


Steve DiGioia
Steve DiGioia
With 20+ years in the hospitality industry and a lifetime of customer service experience, Steve DiGioia shares real-world tips and tactics to improve your customer service, increase employee morale, and provide the experience your customers desire. As a certified trainer, author & speaker, Steve has been recognized as a 4-time “World’s Top 30 Customer Service Professional” by Global and a “Top Customer Service Influencer” by multiple industry-leading sources. He is also a featured contributor to the leading hospitality and customer service websites. With a tagline of “Finding Ways to WOW Your Customer”, Steve continues his pursuit of excellence on his award-winning blog sharing his best strategies on customer service, management, and leadership. Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve DiGioia.

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