Today’s Generation Just Can’t Give Good Service, Agree?

How can “kids” brought up with immediate access to information and short attention spans provide the service experience our “older” generation expects? Good question…

Today's Generation Just Can't Give Good Service

I remember watching old black and white movies where the “old guys”, sitting in front of the barber shop, would complain about the kids of today not having the same respect for others or the work ethic as they did. And they may, or may not, be right. But I bet that every generation has said the same about the up and coming kids.

It happens with the style of clothes and music too…remember your parents complaining about your rock-&-roll music?

So, is it realistic that those accustomed to “fine dining” or the steps-of-service from high-end retailers should expect the same from people who have never experienced this same level of service? Probably not…

Today’s society has changed in many ways; here are some examples:

  • The days of casually purchasing a ticket with cash on board a commuter train, while deep in conversation with a friend, are over. Now you must fumble with your credit card at an automated kiosk. Better not be late for your train…
  • The neighborhood barber shop, in most areas, where you can get a shave and great conversation, has been replaced with cold ‘high-end salons” where you pay top dollar for a basic cut (and the trendiest) or a low end fresh-out-of- beauty-school haircutter. Either way, the experience is no longer personal or special.
  • Elderly supermarket shoppers rarely have access to someone that can assist them to their car with their groceries.
  • Theme restaurants, more interested in moving customers in and out quickly, have installed table-top units where you can order food or drink and pay your bill. Yes, this is a novel approach to service but totally removes the personal interaction of the server. But they still want a 20% tip…go figure!

Another example is the recent efforts to raise the minimum wage for fast food or retail employees. As many cities have enacted laws to raise the wage to as high as $15 per hour, how does this affect the service provided?

Can we expect employees to provide the same service, when the “incentive”, based on earning more through commission on goods sold, is removed versus those with a “guaranteed” higher wage?

Author’s note: for this article I failed to find noted research to validate either side of this argument.

But, I do remember when I worked in commission-based industries. I had reason to smile more, a reason to be more attentive, a reason to ensure I went above and beyond for the customer. The reason was money! As I worked more I earned more.

When you take that incentive away we can only hope their personality and upbringing has provided a “servant leader” mindset to replace it.

Today’s young employees, brought up in a “fast food society”, don’t expect to go to great lengths to please a customer. They have no reference point to measure from.

Their incentive is their cell phone and the latest social media blurb, not the smile from a customer.

In the end, where does this leave us? Can great service still be provided?

For those of us that continually tout the need for, and the benefits of, great service we must realize that service, as society, changes. We must expect a level of discontent from those expecting a 5 star level of service from a person or business not able to, or interested in, providing such.

My recommendation: continue to frequent those businesses that make you, as the customer, feel special, feel appreciated and provide a fair price and product.

They deserve your continued business and loyalty…

Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

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8 thoughts on “Today’s Generation Just Can’t Give Good Service, Agree?

  1. Hi Steve,
    A very well written article. Thank you for sharing. I think this generation of kids can deliver amazing customer service. The key, as you know, is to hire for attitude and train for skill. When managers and owners fail to train their staff, young and old, the employees lack confidence, especially young workers who may be on the job for the first time. Hiring right and training is key. I know you already know this. 🙂 Thank you.

    • Hi Kurt,

      You are so correct but many times just a “warm body” is hired, especially when the wage is low.

      We mistakenly focus on the employees as being at fault, for poor service, when it starts at the top with ownership or senior management.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hi Steve,
    I do have to say that any establishment that has a great training program, vision statement, and mission statement is only 1/2 what’s needed. The main problem I see is that the management staff doesn’t enforce what new hires learn and don’t adhere to the statements. Most new hires are eager to fulfill what they are being taught and what they hear but when they get on the floor they are dishearted because it is not practiced. Any culture starts from the top and can flow through the establishment – it’s the way managers follow through on it that matters. I believe anyone can be taught and even most want to please – we just need to set the right atmosphere for them to thrive.

    • Hi Christine,
      I agree with you 100%. Managers that don’t adhere to their own rules, regulations and standards has been a thorn in my side for most of my career. They are weak, afraid and unwilling to do what’s needed to be successful…but then they complain when their employees don’t do as he/she wants.

      Thanks for your comment.

  3. Steve, when a business brings on new-hires (or as a refresher for old-timers!), you [business] should have a good training program in place. Customer-oriented businesses need to have a culture and definitely need to make their employees aware of how that business culture works. If more employees knew what the business was all about and where it came from, maybe the customer service would improve. I worked for a company that said one thing (no personal cell phones on the sales floor) and tried half-heartedly to enforce the rule. What happened was that – since it wasn’t more strictly enforced, employees were pulling cell phones from their pockets anytime they were on the sales floor- even when they had customers in front of them! Talk about feeling unimportant!

    • Great/good service need discipline. Disciple in it’s training and application and discipline in the attitude and mindset of the employees. Easier said than done!

  4. Love the article and agree. When there is no point of reference for great service, where do today’s employees learn it from. I was at a fast food restaurant and didn’t get a thank you. I sat down at a blue plate restaurant and my expectations were blown away. Is it us that need to lower our standards depending on where and what we are doing? or do we go back to the discussion, manners & customer service should be taught in school as part of life lessons.

    • Anita,
      I am a firm believer that we, as customers, should never have to lower our expectations of service. Sadly, few others agree or are even aware that their service is a let-down.

      Thanks much for your comment – welcome to the team!

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