We go the extra mile, really

“We are proud to provide EXCELLENT service – we go the extra mile”. What bollocks.

Being polite to customers is the baseline behaviour that businesses should provide. The mom-and-pop stores of my childhood had an owner that knew our names, handed out candy or small treats to children, and sympathized over the neighbourhood ills together with my parents. They smiled when we came in, and genuinely meant it when they wished you well.

Nowadays, the surly shop assistants barely stop their chats to actually provide service, have no idea who their customers are, and say “Have a good day” as a mechanistic general-purpose goodbye greeting.

Any business that raises the bar even an inch from this dismal low, claims to have excellent service simply because they have managed to threaten or incentivize their staff enough to look friendly or to do the jobs they are hired for. I’m glad that they are doing something, but I’m very cynical about the claims of “extra miles” and excellence.

Excellence is truly rare. It is a term that is debased by being applied to businesses who pat themselves on the back for providing the sort of service we ought to expect as normal. To these businesses I say “Get real”. Your customers know that they are being patronized, and the good efforts you are making are being spoilt by your loud protestations of excellence. Just saying it is excellent, does not make it so.

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