What cities have the best customer service?

by phil on Tuesday May 12, 2009 9:46 AM

While there's all these fun maps that measure random variables like which states are the happiest and which regions have the most gluttony, is there a map that measures the quality of customer service? What cities have the best customer service?.

I think we underestimate customer service's impact on our happiness. When we have a bad customer service experience, we treat it like just like bad weather. Or when we consider what cities to travel to, I think we don't simulate how we'd feel to have consistently rude waitstaff in Paris. I often hear people return from travel, and nearly one of the first things they say is, "But, service was terrible there!" And I know they're only telling me the tip-of-the-iceberg. When people experience bad service worth mentioning, what they don't relate is the extent of the slight, that it made them angry for an hour or that it ruined their evening.

Why don't we treat customer service with the same moral weight as we do other social interactions? Just because you're paid by a 3rd-party to communicate with others, it doesn't mean you all-of-a-sudden get the right to treat people like crap. I had an incident at an auto repair shop yesterday that really stung me. It set me off and ruined my evening. That's a good 3-4 hours of what could have otherwise been pleasant time for me that someone took away. Why shouldn't I treat this the same as if some random stranger threw a cup of soda at me or a stranger spitting on my shoe. Someone gave me a bad experience. I don't care that it was in the context of a service exchange, it's still game for judgment.

Why not just say it: "People who consistently provide bad customer service are bad people." Imagine how much negative energy that person sows throughout the entire day. Oh, and I can hear the outcries, "come on, they're overworked, underpaid, or deal with idiots every day." Honestly, I think when service workers treat customers poorly, it also hurts them too. By getting bitter and pitting customers in an "Us vs. them" climate, they make for an unhealthy workplace, and turn the attention away from improving the business.

As a work-at-home, single, freelancer, about half of my social interaction is with customer service. And Austin, Texas, for all that has been said about how charming the people are here, customer service is paltry.

Yes, I'm aware I sound like a cranky old man.

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