Where Did Customer Service Go? - "It's Only Food" Blog at Allrecipes.com - 270365

"It's Only Food"

Where Did Customer Service Go? 
Mar. 16, 2012 10:22 am 
Updated: Jan. 16, 2013 4:06 am
Recently we discussed the joys of waitressing and the old days when the waitress actually did all the work. That discussion was a perfect segue into this blog post. A lot of the comments left by you the readers mentioned that customer service has gone to heck, or that all the help the waitress gets now is to increase customer satisfaction to get them coming back to the place of business.

I remember in the late 80's and early 90-'s the phrase "the customer is always right". I didn't always agree with that, and felt that it made the customer feel more "entitled" and therefore made them a pain in the behind.

Nowadays it seems like the kids (not all of them) have absolutley no skills whatsoever when it comes to working in the public or conversing with other humanoids.

I place a great deal of the blame for this on the public schools system.  These poor kids have been led to believe that they are special beyond the norm, that they will always win at everything they do.  They have been coddled from day one, and given whatever they want without having to earn it because the were the "children".

I don't believe we do the youth of this country any favors by not making them aware of how the real world works-that you earn what you make, you get respect by giving it, and you do not get a trophy for placing last in a contest.  Whenever they leave the nest they will be improperly trained to deal with a world that will eat them up. Just look at the #occupy movement.  Stop occupying the parents basement and get a job. And a degree in music theory is why you can't get a job.

If you happen to be an educator and finding your blood boiling, take a step back and look at what you do from a fresh pair of eyes.  Self esteem is nice, but as Ghandi said, "the only one that can make you feel inferior is you".

There I feel better....what are your thoughts :}

Mar. 16, 2012 12:19 pm
Mar. 16, 2012 4:15 pm
You know what? This really is a big huge subject, the state of what we are teaching our kids today. I've thoughtr long and hard about it, heard and said myself, "oh man, these kids today..." In the end though, I think the real problem is our own arrogance. We believe we are the very first people to observe a new generation of people and find them wanting. We tried to give them everything and they now feel entitled to everything. The truth of the matter, I feel, is that this new generation is just us, younger. They're striving to find their own identities and the real qualities that this generation will become known for, as individuals, won't be a product of the materialistic ways we've bestowed them. Rather it will be for the qualities they've observed in US abd found 'not wanting'. I look at what I consider to be the best parts of myselfnad when being candid, as I am now, I feel that the core part of who I am, the things I believe in hard, the way I am, my honesty, etc.. is all stuff I got from my parents. It's the stuff I saw in them and found 'not wanting'. My own kids have made some bewildering moves but when you get down to brass tacks, they've made moves I myself might have made, had I had me for a parent. They've taken what they consider the best parts of myself and their mom, and made them parts of themselves and the crucial thing here, is that they're young. They won't likely choose 'right' for many years but as they grown, and learn, they will come 'round, just like I did. Just like you did. Remember, when we were kids, just because we and our groups were hard workin goto kids doesn't mean we didn't know many who were ne'erdowells. This new crop of waiters and servers, in 25 years, they will own and operate their own restaurants and 1/2 of them will come up with this great 'new' system for serving people, one waiter, all night, for everything. They'll tout it as personalized service. Imagine that. That's me 25 cents.
Mar. 16, 2012 5:48 pm
ok, i agree about the trophies for last place or attending the event. that's insane. but as to teachers and it being their fault about the lack of skills. you are very wrong. it's the parents fault. sure some crummy teachers out there, but being married to a teacher or 23 years...believe me, she was excellent. twice teacher of the year where i live...a city of @ 300,000 folks here. her students had her personal cell-phone number and e-mail address. she worked 12 hours a day. if a student needed extra she was there in any way possible. no i blame the parents for their childrens deficiencies...certainly not teachers.sorry totally disagree!
Mar. 16, 2012 6:13 pm
OK.. my 2 cents worth: This is nothing more than lack of personal responsibility! First: Parents- it's YOUR responsibilty to raise your own kids. Model what you want them to contribute to this world in your own words/deeds. Second: Kids- like Mick Jagger said-"You can't always get what you want, but if YOU try sometimes you get what you need". No blame game, no one's perfect(especially parents), and no one 'owes' you anything. Make your parents/peers proud and always do your best.
Mar. 17, 2012 3:29 am
We are all products of our environment - if we are raised with wolves, we act like wolves. If we are shown LOVE, RESPECT and CONSIDERATION for others, we will most likely grow up to be responsible, caring adults who value these attributes. Teachers often have to deal with large classes of children who come from varying backgrounds and should not be held responsible for core values that should be taught at home. And please don't knock "music theory" as an education - music is a universal language that leads to many great things!
Mar. 17, 2012 5:55 am
Hi John - I used to own a fast food restaurant, I employed many over the years. I personally found the 25 - 35 years of age the most difficult to deal with, they felt they were deserving of everything. A high majority of my students were the best of the best. We had many regular customers and they would remember orders and drink orders and even have them poured as they saw them coming in the door. For not being waitresses or waiters (no tip), they were very respectful and I was proud of their care to the customers. Perhaps I was lucky because these students have no long since gone on to do bigger and better things at College or Universities. I worked with them, they would see my mannerisms to customers and they genuinely repeated what I would do. I do agree that parents need to be trying to raise their children to be mindful and respectful. If you were counting on my 25 - 35 year olds I don't think their children have much hope. I would obviously award more hours to the students who seemed "to get the customer service and care that I expected". I always awarded them a bursary for continuing their education. Many of my staff were employed all throughout their high school years and into their continuing studies. Maybe I was just lucky to have such good students, but even if their parents were paying for their education they were eager to work to have money for other expenses. Everyone is responsible for teaching, I feel I learned a great many things from mentoring the youth. I really tried with the 25-35's as well, they were much more difficult, but I tried. I respected them and hoped that this would rub off on them to treat and be better to others, and to themselves. I love the comment of you may not always get what you want, but you might get what you need. That is all anyone should be asking for. Thanks for this blog John.
Mar. 17, 2012 10:10 am
I'll jump in with a tidbit, or two, but bear in mind, I've only SKIMMED the comments! I worked cust. service my entire working life. It all begins with, lets say, GOOD MANNERS, AND COMMON SENSE. (kids these days are sometimes lacking in both!) Next, BASIC SKILLS... can the person make change for $1 without the aid of the cash register? I once had a gal toil, as she attempted to give me 60 cents... I ended up with 6 dimes in my pocket. On the "up" side, my local convenience market is near a high school. One day I pulled into the handicap parking space, and followed a student into the store... he actually stepped back and held the door open for me! Amazed, I said "thank you, young man," who replied simply, "you're welcome!" THERE IS HOPE, but I do feel that it all begins at HOME, not the classroom... teachers are generally overworked/underpaid AND are expected to babysit while the folks are both at their 9-5 jobs..(?)
Mar. 17, 2012 7:23 pm
Sorry John, but I do not think the public school system should be held responsible here. Private schools turn out the same kids. Regardless, teachers are there to educate children, not raise them! The parents are supposed to be responsible for instilling values, manners, and responsibility in their kids. That is hard to do when you are self centered and rude. Little League coaches get abused for trying to teach the game because every parent thinks his "Johnny" is the second coming of Derek Jeter and every kid has to get a trophy. I recently had an experience with a customer support person, who actually thanked me for remaining civil even though I was rightfully annoyed. She said many people thought yelling and cursing would get them what they wanted. There is a serious lack of civility in the US today, we see it in the media, in Congress, and in everyday life.
Mar. 18, 2012 8:12 am
I was going to stayt away from the parenting part of this discussion, but I feel the same way. I am not blaming teachers but the philosophy that teachers are taught in school when they go to school to become teachers. I may be showing my age but there is a major difference between the kids before the self-esteem movement and the ones that were produced from it, and the parents are the ones that attended school then-early 80's. I in no way blame the teachers, they can only do what they can, and sometimes would like to do a lot more-like impose boundaries and instill discipline-but would most likely be dragged into court for being "hostile" and mean to little Johnny or Kaitlin, because these values are not taught at home. Thank you for your comments
Mar. 19, 2012 8:47 am
I come from a strange perspective, having been raised in Christian schools with great emphasis on personal responsibility, my 2 children (now in college) spent 6 years being home schooled by someone who was ready, willing, and able to take personal responsibility for their education and upbringing and for teaching them to be responsible for their own choices: Me, the "Mean Mother" (no body to blame but myself, etc) but they also spent the other 7 years of their education in public schools, including high school. I now provide nutrition education in about 26 classrooms each week so I see lots of different classroom environments, and teachers. I also know that the classroom climate here in rural southern VA is very different than the classroom climate in urban Wisconsin, NYC, LA, or suburban NoVA or Seattle, WA. We have no teachers' unions here and I do think that makes a big positive difference. The elementary teachers in my community care very much about the kids and work hard to hold them accountable for their actions and choices, but when they have discipline problems the parents are likely (often) to come in and lobby the principal and higher ups to drop the discipline issue. So not only are some parents not teaching their kids good values, they are also undermining the values that our teachers are trying to teach, and in the process their kids learn that they are indeed "special", so "special" that some end up at the juvenile detention center later on. Writing a yellow slip ( a form of discipline) doesn't do much good except to document the disciplinary problem. My office (when I am not going classroom to classroom) is in a mobile unit at our middle school and I share the mobile unit with In School Suspension. Some kids want to learn, some just want to create a disturbance, and some simply do not belong in school because they have no self control. And yes, that's because the people at home are not teaching it to them. Sad. One thing I can totally recommend: kids being a part of 4-H programs where they learn by doing and character education is a part of the program. Youth learn to set and achieve goals in project areas ranging from citizenship to first aid, animal husbandry to engine repair, science, engineering and technology, nutrition, entrepreneurship, money management, public speaking, gardening, land and water stewardship, and so much more. They learn from others and as they gain experience, they teach others as well.
Mar. 21, 2012 7:23 am
This conversation is going in an entirely different direction from customer service. Education is a great deal of trouble in country. So is where the next generation coming from, including myself, considering that too-young/unstable/out-of-wedlock birth rates are skyrocketing, that the economy is so difficult parents work 10x hours/day to support their children, or overall believe that school will do the trick and/or too often are not instilling the fundamental values that create a better next generation. That said, as a 25-35 year old waitstaff who consistently makes 20-25%, I am offended that such a base overall accusation has been unleashed. There are simply some people who should not work in the industry, but there are also some people who should not go out to eat. Higher number of radical customer demands, lower opinion of the industry as a means to income, plus a more entitled generation and overall more self-centered society: this is what leads to bad customer service, from those who perform service to those who critique it. I take pride in what I do, and I am sick of being lumped in with the "snotty college kids", when I genuinely aim to please, and have a better income to prove it. Maybe if society did not consider waiting tables "just that thing you do until you get a real job" then perhaps it would attract people who could provide you with better service.
Mar. 21, 2012 7:42 am
Being a wait person is tough and the job does not get the dignity it deserves. Perhaps because of the wide range of food service places- customers do not see the difference between the part time student clerk at Taco Bell and a career wait person. However, I agree that the entitlement generation does not know the value of work.
Mar. 21, 2012 8:54 am
I did not read all the comments. One stated that kids give what they are given. this is not rue, I was never given kindness, love, support etc. I was abused, my mother tried to kill me when I was 4 months old she hated me so bad. father did not care and my 5 siblings learned I was the fault for everything, just blame me. Of us 6 now adults, I am the only one that is nice, kind, thoughfull, careing, etc. etc. I am this way because I know what meaness is like etc. etc.. Customer service reminds me of my siblings.Rude,impaticent,liars, lazy, think they are smarter and better than anyone else. Allot I think is they would rather be home doing drugs than working, or not work at all and just be given what they want which really makes me mad as I am diabled and can not work. What I think, it is one's own personal choice which way they will go. Of my three children one went their dad's way, it's okay to lie no matter how bad is okay. the only thing that matters is winning, not being in the right. I have dealt with bad customer service from all ages not just the younger adults. Also sometimes a person can be having some pretty bad pain that in trying to hide it can make the person come across rude and not wanting to do their job. I know this from the times I have tried to work since my accident. What I plan on doing is to issue a complaint in writing as speaking to someone seams to make no changes. those phone calls that are recordred, what a joke, I am sure if they are even listened to all that is done is being laughed at. Comcast is the worst.
Mar. 21, 2012 10:52 am
Mar. 21, 2012 7:21 pm
My husband has taught school for over 30 years and takes his job very seriously. He spends a great deal of his time just trying to teach 8th graders to say please and thank you and many other such courtesies. He is always amazed that they were not taught this at home?????? As far as the reward stuff.....that too is crazy. Come on....graduation for kindergartners or 6th grade. Give me a break. If you can't get through kinder...... :( My niece took cupcakes to her daughter's third grade class to celebrate a birthday last week. Out of 34 kids, one said thank you. REALLY!!!! I would kick my son'e behind from here to timbuktu for not saying thank you. BTW manners should be taught at home everyday. Revisiting restaurant observations.....we often marvel at little monkeys running wild in a restaurant and then mommy will send them to school and expect the teacher to make them sit still. Yeah sure:(
Mar. 21, 2012 8:44 pm
Thank you for quoting the 'Father ' of our nation ( India), MAHATMA ( great soul) GANDHI
Mar. 22, 2012 7:30 am
great topic, it is a parent's responsiblity to teach the child and raise a respectable human being to send out into society. If a parent cannot do that, then you failed your child. As I read a few comments about the teachers, I must agree to a point. The teacher's with a few years experience seem to have a better connection with the students. Our teachers were available from 8a.m. until 4p.m. if we could not get our schooling and extra help within those hours, it suck.ed to be us. I do not feel that teachers need to be working their time around the student, it should be the other was around. Children need to learn responsibility, and that the world does not revolve around them. Graduate in grade 12, keep your manners about you, and respect other people's time. You get what you work for, both in school and in the work force.
Mar. 22, 2012 8:02 am
Blaming the teachers is a complete cop-out. Children learn how to treat others based on how they see their parents and guardians treat others. Rudeness and incivility happens too often in our society, regardless if you are the server or the served. Here's a perspective- the customer is NOT always right!
Mar. 22, 2012 11:23 am
I agree to a certain extent...while I am still per say a "kid" in many eyes I have been married for 3 years and am responsible for my family as well as my extended family. My husband and I live nearby my In-laws in a farm community. I have a job but have been out due to a severe back injury, so while everyone else is at work I take care of the home,the meals and the grandparents who can no longer drive. While I have plenty of physical restrictions, I am responsible for figuring out how to do things with my limitations. My family was very strict and I went to a small private school. By the time I was 14 I had a job in addition to my household responsibility (cooking, cleaning etc)While I will be the first to admit there are some crappy teachers out there that just don't care, I think the responsibility falls on the parents. I grew up around my peers that never got a job until after college and hen went to work for "daddy". If parents taught some responsibility and respect we might have a decent generation out there. I teach preschool and see it already. Kids can threaten other children and teachers and do whatever they want and the parents just laugh it off. I actually had a parent report me to the director for trying to teach their child to say please and thank you. I don't know what this world has come to. As for customer service I agree completely. My husband and I both worked for a drug store that was very old-fashioned in their business practices and same thing goes "the customer is always right" yes it can make them a pain in the behind but it can also create a loyal customer base. My husband still works for the company and these teenagers that work there all disagree with the policy and can be very rude. It doesnt help that 16 year olds are getting pregnant and act like just because they are idiots that they are adults and nothing applies to them. Obviously their parents missed the respect lecture.
Mar. 22, 2012 5:54 pm
On the other hand - I have witnessed outraged parents who do NOT want the teachers teaching manners/morals. Just book learning. Kids naturally test boundaries and those with none to begin with make a teacher's job so difficult. I did my best to have my children ready to learn and behave before they went to school. Learning to learn in a group takes place in preschool and kindergarten and parents need to reinforce school rules and social behavior. We should be a team on these things. We had one very special teacher who would help the kids learn how to socialize, have etiquette and discuss their feelings appropriately. This took great patience and time. There are also teachers who get burned out from this effort. There are days when my kids exhaust me with their bickering! Multiply that times 30 kids in a class! Ugh! It is my responsibility to teach my kids manners and how to behave, not a teacher but I sure do appreciate the ones who feel it is worth their time and effort to help me with it! I believe it takes the proverbial village to raise a child. My children are taught to be good patrons in a restaurant. They say please and thank you and address the waitstaff by their name. They pick up the floor if necessary and push in chairs. The kids have often been complimented on their behavior from older folks and waitstaff. It takes effort to get to that point and not every meal out was a success... but... we kept up the effort! My son is considering a restaurant business and one of his biggest worries is dealing with disgruntled and disorderly people. Waitstaff need to be trained in dealing with all kinds of situations - much like children need time and experience to learn. We try to be patient with waitstaff that are obviously learning however we only ever once asked for a new server due to rudeness. And who is hiring these kids that can't "work in the public or be conversing with other humanoids"? They need to be teaching them customer service skills and not have customers complain that kids/servers are rude and disrespectful. Who's fault is that really? Don't hire them then have blame cast on them for poor customer service if you don't train them.
Mar. 22, 2012 7:01 pm
when i was waitressing, my mantra was "the customer is not always right, but, the customer has rights!" they had the right to good service, good food, etc. if i had a difficult customer i referred the problem to the owner and it always worked out. as for the children of today, do not blame the schools, blame the parents. it is a parents responsibility to teach a child good manners and how to converse, etc. too many parents forsake their responsibilities then try to blame everything on the teachers, and or school.
Mar. 23, 2012 7:42 am
well you may think it's the "kids" But I beg to differ. Just this last Christmas a grown woman was telling me to Hurry up and to get my groceries on the counter so she could put my groceries in my cart in plasic bags...I brought my own green bags but they were disregaurded. I had my 2 grandchildren w/ me n sent my hudband to look for the boot the grandaughter dropped thru the store which I didn't see till it was gone.I asked the bagging woman to back off n that I would pack my own, she insisted that she was not going to leave, so when I backed off n watched while she put the soft on the bottem of the inside of the cart and the heavey things on top of them. I made her stop. I told the cashier to stop. my husband came back n was ready to swype the card n I said don't u dare. He stopped the cashier looked @ me like I was stupid and said Mam, is there a problem????? alll of a sudden an angel of mercy came told those 2 women to leave lng story short she fixed everything AND held my hand apologised to me for their behavior and calmed me down. I thanked her from the bottem of my heart. AND for those two MEAN AND NASTY WOMEN.... ur time is comming... some day when ur @ your wits end, not knowing if u r comming or going some woman is gonna do to u what u did to me, and that will be very sad and I hope a wonderful woman comes to ur rescue treats u like she did me.......u will remember what u did to me and be ashamed of yourself.
Mar. 23, 2012 2:00 pm
My 2 cents... yes, raising children should happen at home...teachers mostly have their hands tied and are not allowed to reprimand in any way it seems... I am shocked that my son (and all students) can turn in homework late and re-take tests as many times he needs if he scores low as long as it is in the marking period. Just for going to parent teacher conferences they get "homework pass'" sorry not in my house because the world does not work that way, yet... Customer Service is a two way street... yes you should get good customer sevice, conversley you should be a honest/honorable customer. It boggles my mind when I read colums and articles instructing people on how to get free stuff... "don't take NO for an answer" HA..If you are not TRUELY entitled to compensation DO NOT demand it... If you can not afford a hotel room to attend a wedding Do Not go!! Don't try to get your money back with a lie, people get fired over stuff like that. If there are rules you as a customer should have followed, don't scream and make a scene and try to blame someone else because you did not do what YOU were supposed to do... if you ever go into a auto parts store (lawn mower too) know what you own because it does make a difference, even if you don't think it should!!! Wrong information will get you the wrong part everytime, guarenteed. Then you may feel the need to yell at the counter person because "he" made a mistake... Businesses are in business to, hopefully, make money by providing a service... most businesses are not in the business of "renting". shame on you the customer if you habitually use stores as a rental outlet. Customers and Customer service is a multi generational situation; what is expected can vary by generation, a few basics should cross over. Understanding goes a long way, so does honor...
Mar. 23, 2012 6:54 pm
What's for dinner, mom said everything perfectly, both about education and customer service. Agree, agree. I have 22 students in my kindergarten class. I could tell you within a week which students were prepared for school before they came and after 15 years of teaching, I can tell you which ones will be trouble for pretty much the rest of their lives. Most of that is established in the first few years of life, NOT by public education. Public educators can't fire unruly students, but businesses certainly can fire bad employees and they should.
Jan. 16, 2013 4:02 am
not one person has said anything that hasn't been said before about the "younger generation". i've been hearing it all my life(i'm 50). i heard the same things said about my generation when i was growing up too. the older generations have been saying the same things all of you are saying since man came out of the caves and stood upright. it's a record that's been played ad nauseum. it's called the generation gap. lighten up.
Jan. 16, 2013 4:06 am
oh, and if i hear one more "in my day" story; you know, the how you all walked to school barefoot, up hill, both ways with only one shoe, no one gave me anything story, i think i'm going to puke.
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John Politte

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I have been a professional restaurant person for 30+ years. I started out as a dishwasher and worked my way up the ladder. No schooling except for hands on experience in locations around the USA. I am now starting my own business as a consultant and food writer.
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