Monday, July 25

Customer Service

Most of the country has been plagued by a heatwave, and although the heat is tapering off, I don't have air conditioning, so I've spent more time than usual at my favorite little coffee shop writing. Even when I'm not running away from the heat or "domestic chaos" (the sort that comes with having a teenaged daughter), I still end up here at least once or twice a week. It seem to get more work done when I'm not at home.

So what's my point? My point is that I'm a regular at this particular coffee shop, yet, not a single employee here seems to recognize me when I come in. I'm not asking for much, just some general acknowledgement of the fact that there are weeks when I practically live here--and that most days, I stay long enough to buy a meal, as well as drink endless free refills on my coffee. I'm polite, I always tip, and the staff hasn't undergone much of a turn over since I started coming in, a few years ago (in fact the only guy who doesn't seem to be around any more is the one who *did* recognize me as a regular customer.)

Perhaps I'm stirring up a tempest in a teacup. It doesn't really affect my day that when I go up for a sandwich I'm greeted by the cashier as if she's never seen me before, never mind that I've been sitting here for three hours drinking coffee and working. Less than twenty feet from the register. In plain view.

Or perhaps I'm so nondescript that I'm invisible (if you buy that one, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.) Or maybe people just don't care about customer service as much as they used to. Maybe they've forgotten how good it feels to be recognized when *they* go into their regular little watering hole.

And maybe I'm old enough to remember what it was like when customer service meant greeting your regulars by name--or at least making a point to say 'nice to see you again!' When people made you feel welcome. You'd think that in a time when we're having to make tough choices how we spend our money, someone would remember how much the little things matter.

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