RIP Customer Service

I think customer service is officially dead.  And social media may be, at least partially, to blame.

I walked into a retail store this weekend and the two women working in the store were at the service counter looking at their mobile devices.  Neither acknowledged me, even though there was a bell that rang when a customer came through the door.  I was never greeted with a smile, nor asked if I needed assistance.  Essentially, I was ignored until I came to the register to make my purchase. Many of you are probably thinking the employees were a couple of teenagers who, like many teenagers these days, are addicted to their mobile devices.  But actually, both employees were in their late 40’s.  Social media is no longer a young person phenomenon.

There are many good things about social media.  Our organizations have the ability to engage more customers on a personal level than we ever did before.  We can efficiently communicate messages to the masses and create followers of loyal customers. But if we don’t set some parameters and guidelines for use of social media at work, we run the risk of that social media interfering with the goals of our organizations. With social media, people type more and talk less.  This reduces interpersonal interaction which makes it more difficult for us to build cohesive teams.  This team building is critical to the success of our organizations.  If we also let social media reduce our customer interactions, it will be more difficult for us to build loyal customers who return to do business with us and choose us even though they have other options. If we forget about our customers, we fail. Don’t let social media be the reason your organization falls short of its goals, or even fails altogether.

Admittedly, once I got to the counter, I received great service. The sales person was kind and attentive and thanked me for visiting the store. But, had I needed help finding my item, I doubt I would have received it without interrupting the Twitter updates or Facebook posts.  I would have left the store without making a purchase, a sale lost because of social media. As leaders, we need to be aware of how our team members are using social media.  We need to set guidelines for them so they know what is permitted at work.  If we are not proactive with this, we will find that we have trouble building our teams and developing loyal customers.  So don’t let social media hold you back.  Use social media for the efficiencies it can create for your organization, but don’t let it reduce the very important personal interactions that are critical for both team and customer building.

Thanks for reading,


P.S. – Check out my website at and keep me in mind if you hear of any opportunities to share my thoughts on leadership.

Ways to follow Dr. Jim Earle:
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2 thoughts on “RIP Customer Service

  1. Makes you wonder if their manager has ignored them due to “smartphone interruption syndrome” as well, which might lead to them assuming it is accepted behavior there. This has grown from not limiting cell phone interuptions in prior years. I’ve thought for the past several years that there should be central organizers where cell phones are placed during meetings and anyplace where employees are dealing with their customers face-to-face. It would serve as a “no man’s land” where all parties agreed to not let them interrupt. For some reason people think electronic interruptions are somehow less rude than person-to-person ones.

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