Fast Company

A Total Lack of Customer Service

We've begun to survey Fast Company readers for this year's Customers First Awards, and my early afternoon lunch run made me think of customer service in a slightly different light.

I love Pret a Manger. The food is so good and so fresh -- but slightly expensive. What I like even more is the retail experience. For that's what it is. Sans the counter staff, Pret is the automat of the 2K's. You walk in, you pick your food, you pay.

Pret is a food service first -- staff are needed to make the food fresh every day -- and a retail operation second -- staff are needed to take your money. But the experience at the checkout is akin to dropping coins in a slot. I hardly exchanged two words with the checkout girl, and I'm curious: Were Pret just a tad less expensive -- and they brought back an automat to the corner of 42nd and 3rd -- would I eat there every day? I well might.

What other businesses seem to be entirely free of customer service?

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6 Comments

  • Sam W.

    A good cashier can be worth her/his weight in gold. The next time you go to a store and are in a checkout line, notice how the cashier greets you and then says 'thank you have a nice day'. They all know the words to say but very few really say it like they mean it. Most often when the 'have a nice day' line is said, the cashier is already looking at and reaching for the next customers items. If that happens, they might as well be replaced by an automated system and greeted and wished a fairwell at the door by one person. Maybe they could call them greeters.... hey, wait a minute!

  • Adam Jacobson

    I go to the pret at 42nd and 6th. Service is always fine to me. Not sure I have any great conversations but the line goes quickly and the food is tasty. These two locations are incredibly busy at lunch time. I'm not sure what one is expecting from the counter staff.

  • Dan

    Any worker running a cash register. When I did that job in highschool/college I enjoyed talking with the customer. Now you are lucky to get a grunt or a fleeting glance...

  • Adam

    Interesting how comments are now seen as a form of self promotion. Is marketing getting t-h-a-t desperate?