“How may I help you?” those welcoming words often heard from customer service professionals have suddenly been replaced with “stand on the marked spot please” !!!
Notice also the” you are welcome “ from the personnel manning the door is replaced with may I take your temperature?
How did we get here? You may ask... well, a pandemic happened! All caused by a 20 nm long virus, small but powerful enough to cause a respiratory disease with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease it causes is called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
The wake of this pandemic has affected all aspects of our daily life. International relations, Government policies, Banking, Human Resource Management, Education ‘ Entertainment.. I mean just about everything has been greatly hit by the pandemic
But my focus is on how much it has affected the quality of customer service dished out by most front line service officers. Granted self-preservation is a basic instinct for survival, as such every customer service provider would and should do everything possible to protect themself from getting infected by the virus. However, should basic customer service etiquettes be thrown out the window?
But when it’s no longer a norm to welcome a customer with a warm handshake, but - having a conversation 2meters apart, Stay home and work Dads and Moms, queues in banking halls have moved out to the gate, teachers educate via virtual classes leaving no room for the personal touch, board meeting held over zoom conference calls- has rather become the norm. Does this mean that delivering great service is no longer required?
Well, I don’t think so. I strongly believe that across all service touchpoints excellent service delivery is still very possible. Be it an in-person service, the 2meters distance shouldn't erase a warm welcoming smile and a warm friendly tone. Neither should the nose mask rid the warmth and clarity of service over the telephone.
Sadly though, it's a daily disappointing occurrence to have people who should provide great service become the worst at it. This includes people taking orders at eateries; receptionists in offices; bank customer service officers to public servants. Could it be because of a lack of practice during the months of lockdown?…. Laughs
In whole, I would say since the wake of the pandemic Service has greatly changed from what it should be, but all hope isn't lost! Like it's often said, “this too shall pass”!. While we long for and await the pass of the pandemic each of us rendering service should self evaluate the quality of our service and up-skill where we need to, utilizing our associations (WAASCP) certification courses and the society at large.