Monday, October 27, 2008

Did you say something?

The cashier in our cafeteria at work has this "unique" approach to customer service. Rather than try to explain it, I'll just give you the transcript from a standard interaction:

"Hi, what is that?" he asks pointing at the to-go carton I've placed on the scale.
"A salad," I respond.
"How are you?" he asks as he punches the keys on the register.
"Good, how are you?" I reply.
"Good, you?" he says and punches more keys.
"Uh, good," I say in an attempt to end the back and forth.
"$4.17. Do you want a receipt?" he asks holding out his hand.
"No thanks," I respond handing him the cash.
"How are you?" he asks as he counts out my change.
"Uh, good," I say grabbing my salad and briskly fleeing the line as I hear him ask the next customer how they're doing.

And end scene. Cue laugh track and applause.

Some of my co-workers have argued that he is merely giving good customer service but I disagree. He is offering a memorized platitude and not listening to the response. How is that customer service?

In his defense, I believe he is trying. Like many men, he's probably not that good at multi-tasking. (Sorry guys.) He's so focused on expediting the line and making correct change that the inter-personal exchange takes a back seat. And frankly, I appreciate his priorities. I also appreciate that he is making an effort. But that doesn't stop me from avoiding his line.

What do you think? Is this good customer service? Or a sad attempt at pleasantries? Would you avoid his line to dodge this awkward exchange?


Mindy October 27, 2008 at 6:32 PM  

I'd still go through his line, but every time he asks how you are doing, respond with, "I'm good, how are you doing?" Every time.

Beth October 27, 2008 at 7:01 PM  

I agree with Mindy :) I think I would mess with him :) After about 5 times of you asking him I would think it would stop unless he is autistic or has some other reason for being socially unaware. It sounds like he just has a rote phrase he uses. BTW thanks for lunch. I realized after I drove away I forgot to thank you for lunch in my own ADHD socially unaware state :) It was great to see you and meet your handsome little man!

Anonymous October 27, 2008 at 7:58 PM  

I know EXACTLY who this is. Often when I go through his line, I am left with the same "Huh?" feeling and avoid him at ALL costs. I think he is truly zoning out and going through the motions, rather than being genuine in his desire for good customer service.

The Tucson Gang October 28, 2008 at 1:32 PM  

I think it's the same as walking the hallway and saying "How are you doing" but then not stopping hear their response. I do that and have that happen all the time.

I probably wouldn't avoid the line...I probably wouldn't be listening to notice he did it, every time. :-) Bad, I know.

Kim S October 29, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

Ok, so I would want to say with a very straight face, "Oh, I am terrible today and you?" and then when he asked again, I would say, "Oh, just awful. Are you as bad off as me?" and just keep it going to see if he is listening.

But, what if he answered and told me how bad his life is? Do I really want to know?

So, in reality, I would chicken out and just say "fine, and you?"

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