What happened to “Customer Service”?


If there’s one thing that has seemingly come to bother a large number of people we know it’s the fact that there no longer appears to be any sort of actual service in Calgary anymore. I’m referring to the fact that as the economy heated up a few years back and job shortages became the norm, there was a tendency for front line staff to decide that they did not need to work very hard because replacing them was to difficult, the boom itself became a form of job security. Going to many a Calgary restaurant or nearly any service based store in this city had become a painful experience for consumers. It became “just the way things are”  to have to work to find assistance in Rona, to search out your server and ask where the food was or even to eat something that wasn’t what you ordered because re-ordering would require more time than you were willing to put up with. We all grudgingly accepted the fact and grumbled “that’s Calgary“.

Well that economic boom has passed, yet the awful service continues with no appreciable change. I’m not saying that all staff members at every restaurant don’t care about performing their job, but rather I am commenting on the overall quality of service that is available in this city. For me to have to hunt down a server in order to pay for a meal is ridiculous and certainly is not something that would be considered good for the business, and while I certainly don’t condone doing so under any circumstances, there must be those who simply leave without paying after waiting 20min or more following they’re meal.

It’s gotten to the point where just having a hostess acknowledge your presence without being forced to make yourself known or a server be nice and actually return to the table once during a meal is considered good service. Even I have fallen into this trap and I’ve always been one to require that I get proper service to match what I pay for a meal. We have however taken to giving far less of a tip in order to show what we thought, but his should not need to happen.

I do wonder though if it’s just the employees’ attitudes, or has the fact that so many businesses were forced to run with only minimal staffing for such a long period of time has made the management and owners think that they can still do so today? Perhaps they’ve decided greedily that they can lower overhead by saving the money they would otherwise be spending paying more workers. If this is indeed the case I hope this trend comes to a halt in the very near future, this city does not need to develop a reputation of having universally poor service.  Not to mention that if many customers respond as we have by not tipping, the staff will suffer needlessly when they have done what they can in circumstances they have no control over.

One way or the other things need to change. I’m looking forward to once again experiencing what it’s like to receive proper service when we spend the month of July in Southern Florida and wonder if my reviews following our return will reflect having seen it again. I do want to be fair but if I get spoiled on vacation I may be somewhat more critical than I would have been had we not left Calgary.

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4 responses to “What happened to “Customer Service”?

  1. Having spent the winter in the US of A, I can tell you that there is a definite difference in the quality of service we received in any business, but it is particularly noticeable in restaurants. The US is, apparently driven or perhaps motivated by tourism and appears to assume that all customers or clients are in that category, or could be at some time in the future. Staff in restaurants or businesses act as though they appreciate their jobs. Now, that could be because the US has a culture of tipping that is ingrained. Everybody, it would seem, has at some point in their careers, taken a job in which tipping is part of the package for receiving services – whether it be for restaurant services or getting your tires changed . And therefore they understand the importance and the monetary value, not to mention the acknowledgment of good work, in tipping. But it seems to be much more than that. Americans are friendly, outgoing and welcoming. Could be that they are raised that way and the service they deliver in their jobs reflects a culture.

  2. Personally I think it is all about the will of having fun at work.

    How many of us work but don’t like what we do and that often means that the service people just are there to make there hours.

    Yesterday I was at MEC and asked a guy for help (he was chatting with a coworker) he pointed at somewhere and I asked so you can’t help me with that. so then he moved but was so rude that i almost asked for a manager. But then you run in to other staff in the same store who are so nice.

    Of course there are also places like Rona where they always seem to be under staffed and the staff that walks around does not know what you try to figure out.

    I hope service comes back one day but i would not expect it 😦

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