The other day I went to the Post Office, that shinning pillar of customer service and efficiency. I didn't have a tall order. I had one piece of mail, already stamped, to drop off for a coworker, and I had one package that I needed to have sent to Aurora. I got to the post office at about 1:30 on a Thursday. I figured by this time I'd probably have missed the lunch rush and wouldn't have to wait too long. That was stupid of me.
I got in line behind ten to 15 people, many of them had already adopted body language that said this has taken way too fucking long and I'm still waiting in line. One window didn't have a sign up in front of it or anything. Another window had a sign directing customers to the third window. There was a person standing behind that window doing precisely dick. The third window had a staff member at it who was actively helping people. The person behind window number two would occasionally announce that the other person who was able to help us was at lunch and would be back in 20 minutes or so, and that if anyone had something to drop off and didn't require any actual assistance, she would take it. At least one cranky customer in line asked if there wasn't someone else who could help out, but of course there was. This despite the fact that the one woman was standing behind the counter doing nothing and at least two other Post Office workers stood behind the counter at one point or another.
No wonder everyone bitches about the post office.
I've worked in the customer service industry in one capacity or another for roughly 12 years. About 10 of those years were in retail and the last two years are with the library. I know good customer service and I know bad customer service and I know horrible customer service. This was horrible customer service.
I got through the line faster than I anticipated, and never got to see this mythic second clerk who would be able to help move the line faster. I do know that by the time I left the line was just as long as when I had got there. Also, I counted nine security cameras in the lobby of the Post Office. What the hell? Why would a Post Office in a small, well to do community on Chicagoland's north shore need nine security cameras in the lobby?
I've been thinking a lot about customer service lately. The good and the bad, and the people that can, can't, and can but aren't willing to provide it. Aside from being a pain in the ass, this little trip provided a good lesson on what is necessary in making a strong customer service experience.