Customer Service


What in the World is Customer Service?

As someone who worked one very long year in food service, I have grown to hate the phrase "the customer is always right." But after barely five months in France, I am missing that phrase. I am missing the priority that people place on good customer service. Shoot, I'm just missing that overly eager attitude the shop owners get when you walk into their store. The constant nagging of "can I help you find something" that doesn't let you shop in peace. I'm missing all of that because it seems that in France, customer service is not part of their vocabulary.

Have you had to deal with French customer service before? Because if you have then you will completely understand all the complaints that I have. Finding good customer service in France is like finding a needle in a haystack. It's there but you start to believe that you'll never find it. It seems that here the customer is always wrong, whether or not it was the company that was in the wrong. I think that my banker is the only person who has given me good customer service, but then again I am overlooking the three weeks that it took me to get a debit card and the fact that he forgot to have me sign one of the papers so I had to redo the whole process with his less than eager manager. Which brings me back to customer service, it just doesn't seem to exist!

Simple things like "can I help you find something" are not always heard in most stores. I cannot tell you how many times I've been grocery shopping and had to ask an employee where something was and they glared at me like I was asking too much and point to a general direct. I try asking them for just the aisle number, and they still can't even do that. Then comes my American credit card that loves to cause problems. Oh boy does it love to anger all the cashiers. Because it doesn't have a pin which means I need to sign, which means they need to search around their station for a pen, which proves to be the hardest task in the world. I've even been asked if I could use another card. Umm excuse me, do you really have the right to say that? I mean I understand being lazy, but keep that to yourself! Oh and my favorite is when they mess up and don't even apologize. Apparently they don't care if I choose not to bring my business back to them because I'll be one less problem to deal with. Threatening that you won't use their services again means nothing. And them compensating you for a mistake is rare. If your train is late, you have the right to a compensation but you have to pay 4€ ahead of time, which is a gamble because you want to be compensated if the train is late but you don't want to pay 4€ for nothing. Unfortunately for me the SNCF is the only way to get around France by train and I cannot get around it. So no matter how bad their customer service is, I have to keep coming back. 

The Eiffel Tower Seen from Les Invalides

So how exactly is their service bad? First is their lack of smile. I know that not all of want to work in retail or customer service, but it's still you job, so suck it up and put on a fake smile! Next is the look of judgement, the look like you are the biggest pain in the ass for just asking a simple question. After comes the bluntness and the disregard for your feelings. They seems to have no problem telling you that your picture is ugly or that you're wrong. Finally comes my favorite game: the impossible game. It seems that everything is always impossible and cannot be done when I know for a fact that it can be done. They just don't want to do it. So what can you do? They're the ones with all the power and you have none because customer service seems to be the only way to have some leverage. And in France you have none, so you learn to play the game and pray that your day is spent without any problems. 

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