Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is It American Customer Service Or Is It Me?

We made it safely back just before the hurricane, thankfully.

I haven't lived in the states for a long time. So obviously a thing or two has changed. And then when I start to ponder these things too much I get stuck on the question: How much has changed vs. how much have I changed?

Let's take customer service for example. This, for my first three years here, was most likely the reason you might have heard me exclaim "In My Country . . ."

Swedish customer service drove me crazy. Even if I was the only person in a store I felt like I still had hunt down a sales person. And then there are the times I tried to make a suggestion or two like: If you are going to borrow the American idea of a wedding registry, you should also have the gifts shipped to the bridal party. That is how a wedding registry works. To my more politely asked form of this request I received the response 'That's stupid.'

In my country the response might have been (circa 2004) 'I'm just a sales clerk, but if you go into our webpage you can leave your suggestion there.' and after I left 'did you hear that stupid idea that crazy lady had.'

I don't know what has gotten into the water in the most mall dense area of the world, aka New Jersey, but I kept being shocked by how rude people were. One time we stood in front of this cashier in what we thought was the line, made eyes contact and everything, but not until we put our things down did she point out a long line on the other side of the desk.

And I had to hunt down salespeople as well. There was mysteriously always someone to greet me, but then they just up and disappeared or were totally all about gossiping with their co-workers.

I have come to enjoy the brute honest of Swedish customer service. When we had a problem with an airlines a while back the customer service Swedish rep responded in authentic horror at our situation. She couldn't do anything to help us, but sometimes it is nice that someone acknowledges that the company  f'd up. The American customer reps are so scripted it is worse than watching Days Of Our Lives.

So is it me? Do you see a decline in customer service in the US?


  1. >> She couldn't do anything to help us, but sometimes
    >> it is nice that someone acknowledges that the
    >> company f'd up.

  2. I think bad customer service can happen anywhere but I still think that the service in the US is much better than in Sweden generally. Hope you had a great stay and a nice flight back.

  3. I know this a really old post, but I just felt an urge to leave a reply.

    I'm a swede, and I always feel EXTREMELY uncomfortable whilst outside of Scandinavia and in a shop. The reason being the customer service.

    Sure, it's nice and helpful, but I always feel like the salespersons are going to "pracka på mig" something. It is much nicer to have the service optional, and be able to stroll around looking in my own pace.

    I belive a lot of those raised in Sweden agree with me.