Is Customer Service a thing of the past?

//Is Customer Service a thing of the past?

Pinged with 24 hours to go. Optician appointment reminder. Please arrive 10 minutes early, we have some questions for you!

Bit breathless as I presented myself, face clad in a mask and some very steamy glasses! Doors locked but 5 minutes later a regimented stream of identically dressed young people, again with masks proceeded into the store, almost processional, but then the doors were quickly locked once more, the troops had arrived!

Bang on 8.30am the doors swung open, greeted by a woman whose role reminded me of a ‘’worker ant’. She was holding a glaring screen, ‘can I check your address please?’. The problem being unfortunately that I couldn’t read it, the text was so small! Let’s not forget that, of course, I was fighting the intermittent steamed blur that has become my life! With a touch of two fingers the screen was zoomed to identify my familiar address details, yes that’s where I live, something warm for me to fleetingly think of, home.

Go to the first chair. Listen very carefully for instructions.

Now, there are others following me literally steps behind me. Following the same process. Concentrate. No time for chit chat! I did everything that was asked of me before it was time to move stations! Sit there in the perfectly spaced-out chairs, it won’t be long… it wasn’t! The constant sound of a rapid tapping of keyboards, obviously assessing the very bright, full colour images of my eyes on large screens. I can only assume they were my eyes; I did wonder whether I actually needed to be seen in person given the minute detail being scrutinised on screen, but I was.

The engagement with this professional was just that, professional. No change in tone. No niceties, just a constant clinical bombardment. Culminating in a very brief update on the health of my eyes and the quality of my sight. New glasses required, time to move to the next worker. More clear, perfectly explained instructions. Don’t interrupt, there’s no time for that.

Rows and rows of frames to consider, but don’t touch unless you absolutely must and, if you do, don’t put them back, they will need to be sanitised. I wondered how they would cope with missing frames; wouldn’t that spoil the perfectly formed display?

By now, discomfort was my feeling. ‘I may need to touch a few’, I admitted, ‘please can I ask a question, would you mind having a look with me? You see to try on glasses with clear lenses means I can’t see anything but more blur, especially with each lens being partially covered with promotional labels. In the end, I felt there was no time to ponder, no time to consider. Just decide which lenses, for which deal and pay your bill. Time to make your appointment for your next conveyor belt experience and move on, there will soon be a ‘customer jam’ and we can’t be having that!

This is not a complaint, it is an observation, nobody was unkind, but nobody was kind. There was no warmth, just cold. No personalities, just process. The job was completed with ultimate efficiency, but I left feeling sad and quite honestly in a complete blur about what had just happened.

Please bring back people with warmth and personality! Yes, times are hard but is this our future?