Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Industrial Revolution is dead...Long live the Service Economy



Or, so we are told as more and more good jobs disappear over the horizon.

The question then becomes: How efficient and competitive is the new Service Economy?

Answer: It's inefficient and getting worse.

Reason: Service in our nation is in a rapidly deteriorating condition that, if not address ASAP, will soon lead to shrinking economic growth.

While it is true that the technological revolution has led to rapidly growing productivity, it is also true that it has led to much frustration on the part of users.

I, for one, recall the "good ol' times" when, say, AT&T responded to calls rapidly and courteously: AT&T, can I help you?

Sadly, human voices have been replaced by machines that present a litany of choices that, more often than not, are unable to respond effectively to the callers' request.

Result: FRUSTRATION!!!

I also recall that when buying, say, appliances with ONE warranty meant that they would be installed properly and work correctly. That is no longer the case. Instead, two warranties are generally required, one from the store and one from the manufacturer and, when something goes wrong, one blames the other for whatever went wrong.

I replaced my refrigerator, dishwasher and oven last year. I had major problems with all three, spending countless hours on the phone and wasting precious time at Best Buy and Lowe's.

The made to order refrigerator was suppose to fit in a tight spot and the two big, strong males sent to put it in place were unwilling to do so. Instead, I was forced to hire to individuals who turned out to be Mexicans, about half their size, who had no trouble doing the job. I had already paid the store for delivery but, was not reinmbursed for the extra cost. I'll skip the details about the dishwasher and stove other than to say it was an exercise in frustration.

Seeking help in a retail store is next to impossible these days. And, when available, it is highly likely that the individual is totally uninformed as to the merchandise he/she was hired to sell. Heck, even finding a cashier is difficult at times.

But, nothing is worse than losing your Web connection.

If you call AOL they'll send you to Verizon. If Verizon can't find the problem they'll send you to Lynxis (assuming you are on wireless). If Lynxis can't fix the problem they'll send you back to Verizon and on and on and on....

I'll take a root canal to seeking help from providers any time.

And have you ever tried to cancel a subscription? Once they catch you, they'll try to retain you for life. Renewals are "automatic" and the next thing you know you'll get another bill, usually for a larger amount, long before the original subscription has expired. Try as you may online, you can't find a place where it says "cancellation."

The question then becomes: How do we transform FRUSTRATION into SATISFACTION for our Service Economy to succeed?

Answer: TRAINING...TRAINING...and more TRAINING!

Advertising might work to lure the client to the store or institution but, unless he/she leaves satisfied with a job well done in a timely fashion, our economy will soon lose its luster and the U.S. will become just another wanna be leader, particularly at a time when competition from abroad becomes ever more fierce.