Sunday, November 20, 2011

Is Customer Service a lost art?

It never ceases to amaze me how customer service can range from good to... practically nonexistent. I love the experience of going to a store or restaurant and encountering a staff member who clearly loves her job. She greets the customer with a smile and exudes a passion for what she does. In turn, the customer feels good and eager to return the favor (perhaps by rewarding that person with a generous tip).

I think customer service is becoming a lost art because these days th
ere are so many people doing jobs that they just don’t want to do. Personally, I can’t imagine being that unhappy with the work I do every day. Because then not only are you unhappy, but everyone you interact with can sense that and it puts a damper on their day too.

Customer service is exactly what those two words mean: serving the customer. And when you receive bad customer service you can’t help but be upset. I recently went to Best Buy and had a HORRIBLE experience. I was literally standing beneath a big sign that read “Customer Service” while having a disagreement with the store manager. I was explaining to her that a store representative had promised me something earlier (which my partner, Ryan, had heard as well), and then when I was going to take him up on the offer, he lied right to my face and said he hadn’t offered me the deal. The manager refused to help me in any way, and I kept reminding her that I was standing at the counter for “customer service.” In an almost comical way, I even pointed up at the sign as if she didn’t know—embarrassing Ryan in the process, who I could tell was thinking, “Oh my god, he’s pointing out the sign....” But it was just shocking to me that someone who is working in the customer service department could have no understanding of what customer service actually is.

All too often, when you go to Starbucks in a big city like New York, the cashier doesn’t look up, doesn’t smile, doesn’t ask you how you are, and doesn’t say “thank you.” However, when you go to the smaller parts of the country, the person behind the counter usually looks up and says right away, “Hi, how are you?” and then “Thank you for your order.” And this person seems to really mean it. This is what should be happening everywhere, all the time. Kindness and courtesy are extremely contagious. Good customer service results in good client relations, which creates a positive environment and keeps everybody happy. Really, it’s the simple things—like a genuine smile—that can make the biggest difference.



  1. Thank you for this post. As a Hospitality management graduate and always give excellent customer service, it's extremely upsetting to go to a store or restaurant and the person makes us feel like we shouldn't be there. It gets under my skin as much as your post because I know what it's like to give great service and really making your guests feel special. I just found out about you and your show today and had to learn more by looking at this website and I must say that David Tutera is my new favorite person! - Jen

    1. Your blog is very informative and helpful. Thanks to your useful post!


  2. This means a lot because I am one of those people who looks up at the customer, smiles no matter how long they take and always get them what they need. I personally hate walking into restaurants and they aren't friendly. I love your show, and it gives me the courage to go into Event Management even though i have people telling me it's not that good of a career, but I absolutely love making people happy by making one day out of their lives perfect! Thanks for the inspiration David!

  3. It seems as though we are not just disconnecting ourselves from each other in our personal relationships, but in our social relationships as well. It's a shame that there is so much staleness in human contact now days. When emotional nurturing is essential for our happiness, simple things like going out for a cup of coffee and having an unpleasant experience makes a big impact. Maybe the gal from Best Buy stopped in at the wrong Starbucks that morning. That's that ripple effect. Still, If she was smart enough to play her fellow Best Buy Buddy's game, then she's smart enough to know that she wasn't giving the customer service she expects when she is the customer. That's too bad. Sorry David & Ryan.

  4. David,
    I think this is a poem you would really cherish! It is one of my favorites!! It is something I do everyday because I work with kids and and is so important to teach our next generation the gift of kindness and courtesy!

    Smiling is contagious,
    you catch it like the flu,
    When someone smiled at
    me today, I started smiling too.
    I passed around the corner,
    and someone saw my grin -
    When he smiled I
    realized, I'd passed it on to him.

    I thought about that smile,
    then I realized its worth,
    A single smile, just like mine,
    could travel round the earth.
    So, if you feel a smile begin,
    don't leave it undetected -
    Let's start an epidemic quick
    and get the world infected!!

  5. David, what I love so much about you is that you are so genuine in your words and your actions. Despite your obvious fame and success, you don't let it go to your head. You make miracles happen for every day people, despite appearance, where they come from, and what they have. Thank you for proving that powerful people can be good people.

  6. Hi David,
    I recently discovered your show and I am a new fan. You handle the brides with such tact and professionalism. It's so freshing to watch someone with such class! Continued success and I'll be tuning in every Sunday night to see your beautiful weddings. Lucky brides!

  7. Hi David,
    I am completely in love with your show. I'm sixteen years old and I've watched wedding shows for about 4 years. You really are my inspiration and now I'm seriously thinking about pursuing a career in Event Planning. Thanks so much for everything you do.

  8. I know exactly what you mean!! I was promised a service by my phone company for free. Yesterday (which was my birthday I might add!), a random phone number started calling and texting me with very vulgar things. I called my cell phone provider after 20+ phone calls, several voicemails, and multiple texts from this mysterious caller. They said they could block the number for free, and I was transferred to the right department. Once transferred they told me I would have to pay for the service. I went through several loops of being transferred, determined to get the free service I was promised. In the end, I gave up and said I would just deal with the harassing phone calls. So yes, customer service is very much so a lost art.

  9. Customer service is a lost art! So many people are just there to collect a check. I used to want to start a business and go in to stores and help set and teach standard operating procedures as relates to customer service. Then it dawned on me that many of these companies don't care - or else would you have argued with the manager under the sign?!!

  10. David, you are spot on.
    I wish you had taken the next step to identify which Best Buy, because the only way store managers will learn to value customer service is when their numbers fall because their lack of attention to customers kills business.
    I'm surprised, however, that you were in a Best Buy, considering the company's stance against equal civil rights. Best Buy donated to a well-known anti-gay rights candidate in Minnesota.
    Each and every dollar we spend is a vote, especially since the Supreme Court gave companies the right to donate and support candidates.
    So it is important we think before we spend: whether we stop spending due to poor customer service or because we disagree with a company's politics.
    Keep up the good work, as you influence and inspire millions of people.

  11. I recently had an experience almost identical, I was promised one thing and told something completely different when ready to make my purchase of buying a new car, this was the letter I wrote back to the lying salesperson:

    Thank you for your response but I ended up purchasing a vehicle last night from Sunrise Chevrolet. When I called your dealership on Monday evening, I was assured by Jorge on the phone that the advertised price on the website was the sale price for the car, they were not rebates, they weren't for only certain qualified buyers, it was a sale price. When I met with you that evening, I kept asking about that price but you had never answered me. Yesterday afternoon I called for you but you were with someone so I asked the person who answered the phone about it. He told me that there was a USAA rebate that would not apply so that would tack on more money and that the price only applied to a 24month lease, which I was assured previously was not the case by Jorge on the phone. As I told you, I've worked in dealerships before, I understand advertising and making things sound better than they are to get people in the door but I do not respect when I take the time to come in, I ask the question about the price, we were on a time crunch because of our other plans, but my question could have been answered with a simple yes or no. Sunrise Chevrolet was a bit more expensive, but when I called and asked them my questions, they were up front with me, they told me what I wanted to know, and in the business of sales, that is hard to find, so I went in, and I made my purchase. I work in property management, leasing apartments, there's tons of other communities in our area just as nice, if not nicer, we don't just sell our apartments, we sell the value, we sell ourselves. If my question had been answered honestly on the phone the first time, or even when I went in that evening and met with you, I would have done my business there. I understand the nature of sales, but just remember, there are thousands of that car at many other dealerships, some cheaper, some more expensive. What people buy is that service they receive, buying a car is similar to leasing an apartment, it's a big commitment, long term, and financially, it could be scary out there, we want to work with someone we respect, who we trust. Don't sell me on false advertisements and continue to avoid the truth, sell me on the value, why I should pay that advertised amount, and most importantly, why I should have bought it from you. I just wanted to write back to you to let you know that you do not need to follow up with me since I have made my decision, and I wanted you to know why I made the decision I did.

    Best of luck

    I then copied this e-mail to my company I work for to demonstrate how far customer service can get you

  12. I recently started working in retail, and find the same thing to be true! Some of us totally love our jobs, or pretend really well, since we realize we would have no job if we had no customer, and other people just exude indifference.

  13. I agree with you David. I think our country is so much customer service based more than ever, but we lost something along the way. I'm a state employee and you especially see it in state employees, but not me. I always go out of my way to help someone even if it is not in my job description.

  14. I agree 100%. I worthat k the front desk of a Hilton hotel and interact with customers face to face and on the phone all day. Every guest that walks in the front door I give them a smile and listen even on the phone I smile. On thing I have noticed in a business hotel is that not every guest is willing to return the smile and be nice. I think it is people to people interaction and learning how to respect each other and listening that we have lost the most! the manager that you were dealing with David should have done more to help you out it always about making the guest or customers happy.

  15. I can't agree with you more. There are situations these days in a business environment that make you ask yourself "What just happened?" OK who am I kidding, maybe sometimes it's more like "WTF!!!" but you get my point. Someone obviously didn't get the memo about how customers are always right. Well, not always right but you have to show some compassion and at least attempt to fix the problem or meet somewhere on a middle ground. Show some compassion! I think with how the economy is now people are just so high strung and on edge no one cares that they are there being paid to provide customer service. They need to be thankful they have a job, some of us don't.

  16. You are exactly right! So frustrating. If you have to get on a phone to try to get something taken care of the level goes down an entire ladder! People need pretty things in their life...maybe it will make them nicer. LOL

  17. I work in a customer service job for a living and I love my job!

  18. So, so true. I'm always amazed at how many people who don't see to like OTHER people end up in jobs that have them in the public eye every day! I have a theory about 'wedding time'....I think it's just like "Dog Years". If you call a vendor and have to wait a day for a response, it feels like a week. Not pleasant; not necessary, and definitely not satisfying. It's really sad when a great customer service experience is unusual!

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