Things That Amaze Me, Chapter 1: Even though this would seem an ideal time for businesses to reach out to the community, to improve service, to ensure that customers are left with a positive impression, such initiatives don’t yet seem to have achieved universal acceptance.
The result, say some I know, is that our expectations have reached a point where we accept mediocre as good, where we find our threshold of disappointment being nudged higher with each frustrating exchange.
On the occasions when we actually get what we asked for, we almost feel lucky. Oh, it isn’t just getting home, opening the bag from the drive-through and finding that onion rings have replaced the chicken sandwich you ordered.
It’s a whole range of service-related experiences that make you wonder what ever happened to the way our society used to do business. I worry that the concept of providing service with a smile has become one of those things our grandkids will read about in their history Kindles.
Some of my concerns, admittedly, seem benign enough, among them the dreaded expired-coupon dilemma. Although I’ve always believed the coupon was a way to bring customers through the door, some businesses apparently see it as a privilege that can be taken away just as impersonally as it was offered, the expiration date an irrevocable deadline, not an invitation that says, simply, “Come on in and get acquainted.”
In my apparently flawed way of looking at life in general, it seems logical that businesses would use coupons to get people in the door, so if a date has passed but the customer is ready to spend precious dollars, why should the small print make a difference.
Maybe I’ll reflect on it some more and figure out where my thinking has veered off base. As always, feel free to share your thoughts with me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK, so back to the issue of reaching out to the community, making people respond favorably to their interaction with the rest of us-you know, feel-good stuff.
It’s what we were thinking about when we heard that the Arizona Cardinals, whose home away from home is right here in our back yard, contribute $675,000 a year to the community by way of rent they pay the city of Tempe. That seemed like a chance for us to say something nice about them. Maybe even put their photo on our cover.
The Cardinals, it turns out, didn’t share our enthusiasm. After making numerous attempts to reach their public relations (?) staff, we received a terse email saying they “politely declined” our offer, although I’m not sure they knew exactly what our offer was because we never had a chance to discuss it.
Well, so much for positive impressions (see above).
Let’s hope that my observations are limited to a few isolated experiences, that businesses don’t overlook the value that accrues from strengthening customer relationships, that my grandchildren can enjoy a discounted lunch even if their coupon has expired, and that the Cardinals have another spectacular year.
Fair-weather friends seem to go into hiding when the rainy season arrives-and it always does.