Everyone's a Critic

By: Lorraine Iverson

I love good customer service as much as the next person. But I think Americans have gone from expecting good service to becoming entitled, demanding jerks. Is that too harsh? I think not. It seems everywhere I go I hear someone reaming someone a new one. Restaurants, government offices, airports, grocery stores, it’s happening anywhere that someone is being served. And it’s getting embarrassing. I feel like I should be going  behind these jerks and apologizing for their rude behavior. Why me? Because I’m a human being and the servers are human beings and they shouldn’t be treated like dogs. Actually, none of these entitled creeps would treat their dogs this badly.

If Nordstrom’s started the exemplary customer service model, which is admirable, I think Yelp took that model and turned it into the “customer a**-hole model.” Everyone that doesn’t get exactly what they want, exactly when they want it, throws a huge fit, then goes online and writes a scathing review. I wonder how many of these same critics write good reviews when they get exactly what they want, when they want it. Not many.

It seems compassion is no longer part of our interaction with people that assist us. Do these snarling, demanding consumers ever stop to think that their clerk or waitress might be having a bad day? I also have to wonder if these correctors-of-all-things-less-than-perfect ever make mistakes themselves. Hmmm.

Everyone Makes Mistakes - Oh Yes They Do

At the beginning of the service at our spiritual center the children are on stage. We hear from their teacher what they will be learning that day. A few weeks ago the lesson was about mistakes. The teacher asked all the adults in the congregation to raise their hands if they had ever made a mistake. Of course, we all raised our hands. The kid’s lesson was about how everyone makes them and how to forgive and move forward. I think that little lesson triggered my post today.

Several people in our family own service businesses. These companies live and die by reviews and they work incredibly hard to maintain good service. They do it because they have integrity and want their customers to be happy and come back again and tell their friends and family about them. Companies like Angie’s List and Yelp have contributed to companies keeping their quality at a high level. Angie’s List is a respectable company that charges customers a fee to use their service and they monitor their reviews so that fraudulent reviews are very rare. Yelp, on the other hand, has no such monitors in place. Anyone can go on Yelp and decimate a small business. It’s given the bullies among us a pulpit to spew vitriol whenever their panties get in a bunch because their cappuccino had flat foam. 

I think that Yelp and similar review sites created this feeling of entitlement that we are experiencing. And, it ain’t pretty. I don’t want to get all biblical on you here but he who has not sinned, etc, etc. Lighten up people. Give a sister a break once in while. I don’t like to be inconvenienced either but are you really so important and so busy that you can’t wait a couple extra minutes because someone in front of you isn’t moving fast enough or the clerk jammed her cash register or whatever your big meltdown of the day was about? Let’s all put ourselves in one another’s sneakers once in a while. Do you really want that person to lose their job? Because that’s what happens sometimes. You write that nasty review and really tell those idiots what you think of them. You name names and everything. They’re not getting away with treating your royal highness like that. Good for you. You feel better? Well, that kid who was working his way through college just got canned. Or that single mom got a demotion because she sounded less than chipper on the phone after you yelled at her for 10 minutes. Power of the pen/keyboard is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Try a Little Tenderness with Your Tirade

I admit, I too can get pretty bitchy if I’ve been on hold for 15 minutes and then I get transferred and then they disconnect me and then they can’t help me because I don’t have my husband’s social security number. I won’t lie to you - I’ll let them have it. But I’ll at least preface my rant by saying, “I know this is not your fault but I need to tell you the experience I’m having with your company so someone can fix it.” Usually this happens with very large companies and they don’t care about my complaining. But I do get to vent without treating an innocent employee like a punching bag.

If I’m unhappy with food or service at a restaurant, I’ll address it with the server first. They usually fix it fast. If not, I’ll talk to the manager or owner. But I have never gone on Yelp to publicly humiliate or destroy them. I’ve waited tables and it’s a tough job. Everyone should have to wait tables at some time in their lives. In Israel you have to join the army. In the USA, you have to wait tables. If you’ve ever had that job, you are much more tolerant and you’re a better tipper too. 

I believe that most people are doing the best they can. Some jobs just suck and the people doing them are only there because they need money. Maybe give them a break and maybe even a smile. It’s amazing what happens.  

One day I had to go to the DMV. No way to get out of it. I had a problem that had to be taken into the belly of the beast. I decided that, no matter what, I was going to love every single person I encountered. It was my little experiment. I had to go to three different windows and deal with three very dour government employees that take abuse all day long. I just kept smiling and silently sending them love. One of them expedited an issue that should have gone to the state headquarters. The second one was sweet as honey and the third, a really mean, scary looking guy they kept in the corner, took care of me and told me I had made his whole day.  

Just try it and see how you feel. No matter what, just smile and love everyone you encounter for a day. How bad could it be?

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Rain Iverson has traveled many paths and is always recreating herself. As a business woman, she co-founded and managed a technology public relations firm and one of the first computer conferencing software companies. She has served on non-profit boards, retired at 50 to become an artist and then 10 years later came out of retirement to become CFO of her son's company. Rain is the matriarch of a large, blended family with a great husband, children, grandchildren and lots of extended/blended family members.