Author Topic: Levels Of Enthusiasm  (Read 2690 times)

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Millionaire Maria

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Levels Of Enthusiasm
« on: October 01, 2013, 12:13:39 AM »
So, without getting into the details of the specific incident that sparked this question, I was wondering....

We all interact with different kinds of businesses and agencies all the time. Depending on the nature of said establishment, how do you expect to be treated when doing business?

For example, in a place like a restaurant, where it is obvious that there are dozens of other choices and one could easily choose to never return without a second thought, one is generally greeted and treated with a certain level of enthusiasm. "Thank you for coming" "I hope you enjoyed your meal" etc....

In a place like a bank, where, yes, there are other choices, but it's not so easy to switch, one may encounter a different level of welcome. "Good morning, what can I do for you?" "Is there anything else I can do for you?" etc...

And then there are places where one does not have the option to take their "business" elsewhere: government agencies that exist to serve the public. What level of service is it reasonable to expect from such places? I think it's silly to expect the same kind of greeting one would get at privately owned businesses, but we are still customers on some level, are we not? Is it reasonable to expect a government employee in this capacity to be at least pleasant? Is it reasonable to complain about lousy service from these service providers? What level of enthusiasm do you expect from someone working in this capacity?
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Yvaine

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 12:41:52 AM »
I don't see this as being about "whether you have other choices"--it's about the type of atmosphere the business wants to project. Lots of restaurants want to present an image of happy, bubbly fun, and so the customer service style reflects that. In a restaurant that wanted to convey quiet elegance, you'd get a whole other style. Banks are more toned down than your average Applebee's because they are trying to appear serious--a sense of gravitas, if you will. (Which I think it why it kind of throws me when some banks have a bubbly "greeter"!)

I would say that a government worker i(in general) should be polite and professional, but I wouldn't expect an ear-to-ear grin; most of what you're doing at a government agency is "serious" stuff rather than "woohoo girls' night out!" stuff. I think businesslike courtesy is sufficient. Of course, if they're actually being rude, that's different, but if the only issue is lack of enthusiasm, I wouldn't see an issue.

(Edited to add: here's an example of actual rudeness. A few weeks ago I went to a government office and the employee I dealt with (a) had a condescending tone the whole time, (b) interrupted me constantly, (c) accused me of lying, and (d) made a false assumption and blathered on about it before I could get a word in edgewise and explain that he was wrong; specifically he assumed I had never lived in this state before instead of asking. That's rude. If it was just a matter of not being bubbly or smiley, no etiquette crime IMO.)
« Last Edit: October 01, 2013, 01:01:34 AM by Yvaine »

Allyson

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2013, 02:19:11 AM »
I agree with Yvaine. Personally, I would find it really odd if my dentist, bank or employment insurance person was enthusiastic and cheery as if I were at a restaurant or salon. It's not so much about having other choices, though, as about the atmosphere presented. There are certain types of restaurants that will be more enthusiastic in their service than others. A family restaurant will be different than a fancy romantic place; that kind of thing.

I really just want basic politeness from professionals. Small-talk is fine, but I prefer it not to feel as though they are 'catering to' me, if that makes sense. I'm not paying them, they're providing a necessary service, so there's no need for the "customer/service person" vibe there. Everyone can just be pleasant.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2013, 12:23:32 PM »
I don't know if it is enthusiasm that determines the actions.  I want a meal to be enjoyable, or fun.  I don't want that for my teeth cleaning.  I want them to project a caring, yet very professional persona.  As in: I am very good at this, and I know it isn't something you enjoy, so let me take care of you efficiently.

I work at the DMV, and although I strive to be friendly, my main focus is to get you on your way.  Except for teens getting their first license, no one looks forward to coming here.  What my customers want more than anything is to leave.  So I try to be fast and accurate. 
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Slartibartfast

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 02:11:36 PM »
I would expect a front-line employee at a government organization to - at a very minimum - look like they're not hating their job.  I don't expect giant smiles, but I do expect at least the pretense of helpfulness, like they acknowledge that their job requires customer service and they either like it or don't mind.  (I'm one of those crazy people who actually enjoyed working at retail, though, so take that for what it's worth . . .)

BeagleMommy

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2013, 03:10:54 PM »
POD to those who've said the level of enthusiasm depends on the image the business wants to convey.  I would expect elegant friendliness at a high end restaurant.  Professional friendliness at a bank or government agency and bubbly friendliness at a family friendly restaurant.

DH runs a computer repair business from our home.  He uses what I call Techno Geek friendly.

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2013, 04:35:25 PM »
Slartibartfast, I am sure you will appreciate this, but one line I gleaned from the Hitchhiker's Guide has stood me in good stead for years: I apologize for the inconvenience.

I have had people come up to me, either furious or nearly weeping with frustration.  But that line works wonders.  It is especially effective as a closing statement.  People noticeably relax.  "Oh, that's okay."
I have enough lithium in my medicine cabinet to power three cars across a sizeable desert.  Which makes me officially...Three Cars Crazy

*inviteseller

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2013, 08:21:40 PM »
I don't care what establishment I am going to..whether I will be spending money or if I just need a service they provide, I expect to be greeted politely as I will greet them. 

diesel_darlin

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2013, 08:24:09 PM »
I don't care what establishment I am going to..whether I will be spending money or if I just need a service they provide, I expect to be greeted politely as I will greet them.

This.

blarg314

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2013, 08:57:35 PM »

I expect polite and competent when I go to a business.  But I don't expect enthusiasm or friendliness.

The bank vs restaurant comparison is an interesting one. I'd actually say that being too cheerful and friendly can actually be a negative for a financial institution - the impression they're more likely to want to impress is sober, highly competent, and very, very responsible with your money. Cheerful perkiness like you'd get at a restaurant chain where the servers are wearing funny hats is not going to give that impression.


Yvaine

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2013, 09:01:25 PM »

I expect polite and competent when I go to a business.  But I don't expect enthusiasm or friendliness.

The bank vs restaurant comparison is an interesting one. I'd actually say that being too cheerful and friendly can actually be a negative for a financial institution - the impression they're more likely to want to impress is sober, highly competent, and very, very responsible with your money. Cheerful perkiness like you'd get at a restaurant chain where the servers are wearing funny hats is not going to give that impression.

This. I don't think politeness and enthusiasm are the same thing, though they can overlap.

Virg

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2013, 10:24:13 AM »
Enthusiasm is a two way street, and I think that a proper match works best.  To answer millionaire maria's question of "Is it reasonable to expect a government employee in this capacity to be at least pleasant?" I ask, how pleasant is the "customer" expected to be?  How "enthusiastic" are the people walking in the door?  If I'm at the county clerk's office, I don't expect enthusiasm and to be honest I'd find a big smile and a "have a nice day" to be pretty flip to someone who's paying a traffic violation.  I don't think it's reasonable to demand cheer and smiles from Post Office counter help, just efficiency and professional politeness, because the vast majority of people don't go into the Post Office all cheery and smiley and looking for fun times.  As long as the person doing the work does a good job of whatever that work is and maintains a basic level of professionalism, enthusiasm isn't usually necessary.  I'd only complain if they were egregiously rude, but if I finished at the DMV and the counter person simply looked to the line and said, "Next!" I wouldn't be bothered by it.

Virg

White Lotus

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2013, 10:39:30 AM »
Sometimes all it takes -- speaking as a person currently spending time at the DMV -- is a smile, a pleasant greeting, and friendly efficiency to change a cranky customer into a happy one.  Improves the DMV worker's day, too.  My loyalty to my dentist and doctor and bank over the years should at least mean they act as if they are happy to see me, and again, are both friendly and efficient.  When the service person starts out in a snark, no matter what the business is, or is cold and distant, it doesn't make anyone's day better.  I may not like getting a root canal much, but it is a much better overall experience when everyone acts like they are genuinely happy to see me, and project that they'll do their usual fine work while telling me about their pets, kids, vacations, and other pleasant things.  When I worked as a server, it seemed to me that a smile and pleasant demeanor was part of the job.  I don't think servers/CS reps should try to join the party or create one, but neither should they be draggy-rear grumps, and that applies to anyone in a public contact job. IMO.  The customers may not be thrilled with what they have to do, but the least Mr. or Ms. DMV, for example, can try to alleviate the pain, not add to it.

Zilla

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2013, 10:49:03 AM »
I am a mild person.  Mild in my reactions and prefer mild "responses" to my person.  I would prefer in ALL situations you described that I hear, "Hello, how may I help you?"  I don't want an extra warm/gushy greeting just because I am bringing them something extra.  I would prefer professionalism and civility.


With that said, I do have a lessor expectation from a government/utility than let's say a bank.  If I got anything less than the Hello, may I help you phrase, I would be less annoyed from a utility than a bank.


Okay now I want to know what happened.  ;D

pierrotlunaire0

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Re: Levels Of Enthusiasm
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2013, 11:48:23 AM »
Sometimes all it takes -- speaking as a person currently spending time at the DMV -- is a smile, a pleasant greeting, and friendly efficiency to change a cranky customer into a happy one.  Improves the DMV worker's day, too.  My loyalty to my dentist and doctor and bank over the years should at least mean they act as if they are happy to see me, and again, are both friendly and efficient.  When the service person starts out in a snark, no matter what the business is, or is cold and distant, it doesn't make anyone's day better.  I may not like getting a root canal much, but it is a much better overall experience when everyone acts like they are genuinely happy to see me, and project that they'll do their usual fine work while telling me about their pets, kids, vacations, and other pleasant things.  When I worked as a server, it seemed to me that a smile and pleasant demeanor was part of the job.  I don't think servers/CS reps should try to join the party or create one, but neither should they be draggy-rear grumps, and that applies to anyone in a public contact job. IMO.  The customers may not be thrilled with what they have to do, but the least Mr. or Ms. DMV, for example, can try to alleviate the pain, not add to it.

For years, I have tried to instill this in my coworkers.  No matter what, we are going to get some people who are going to snarl our head off no matter what.  But, 90% of the people who come in approach the counter in a fairly emotional neutral state, maybe a little nervous (how much is this going to cost?), but still willing to work with you.  Efficiency, an approachable attitude, and courtesy will turn that neutral stance into something that at least approaches a positive experience.

Right now, I am extremely fortunate in my office: (1) staff gets along well, and they are hard working team players, and (2) customers in this area do try to work with us.

But then, whenever I get a compliment, I always tell the customer that we have the best customers in the state, because I appreciate how much they do to make my job good.
I have enough lithium in my medicine cabinet to power three cars across a sizeable desert.  Which makes me officially...Three Cars Crazy