Jay Goltz, a small business owner in Chicago, thinks there are three reasons why customer service is so terrible at so many companies.
1. Health insurance. It’s too high, so to cut costs companies hire part timers. “It is difficult enough to train full-time people. Having them there part-time and having a huge turnover makes it all the more difficult.”
2. Crazy pricing. Now that retailers engage in overhyped sales year-round, it’s much more difficult to keep the right ratio of employees to customers. “When you have manic pricing, up one day, down the next, it wreaks havoc on customer service. When the sale is on, you don’t have enough staff. When the sale is off, the staff stands around and complains about the slow business.”
3. The lack of a merchant class. (We think that’s what he’s saying.) Most modern businesses don’t pass down a tradition of how to value the customer relationship. Instead, impersonal corporate employees swoop in and make decisions that look good on paper, but ruin the ineffable sense of being appreciated that most customers long for:
When you walk into a store, and there is virtually no help, it’s because someone figured out that the company could save X dollars if it cut back the labor budget by 7 percent. When you walk out disgusted and sales go down, the store blames it on the economy or brutal competition. Then the company reacts by having another sale which further erodes profit margins. This cycle eventually results in another failed store.