The Anti-Vigilante

While it’s easy to rail against bad customer service, I wondered how hard it would be to fix it instead?  I’ve had my share of rude clerks and late deliveries, but I realize that there are some retailers that I’ve actually become “friends” with.  Could there be a magic formula that would personalize all my transaction interactions? So as an experiment I decided to become the anti-vigilante. As simple as it sounds, I began to ask people their names. Not the way we typically ask, as in “What’s your name so I can rat you out to your supervisor?” but “What’s your name, so we can know each other?” 

Most mornings, I get coffee from a nice guy who has a cart a couple of blocks down from my apartment. But it wasn’t until yesterday, that I asked, “What’s your name?” “Nazir,” he smiled (and secretly slipped a donut into my bag.) Now, this friendship comes with calories but what a transformation! It’s isn’t coffee anymore; it’s a chance to chat with Nazir.

It worked at the vegetable stand, with a building security guard, with a florist. Eureka! Everyone is so much nicer. I’m lucky that I have a pretty amazing memory, so I can recall my mental Rolodex on a dime. Could we actually recreate service with a smile in a Vigilante Consumer service world? Could a cold digital relationship warm up with a little old-fashioned courtesy?

The new campaign for Dentyne Ice jumps on this intimacy bandwagon with a new campaign called “Make Face Time” reminding consumers that the original instant message was a kiss. How about a hug to replace Reply All? OK, I’m not going that far with the coffee guy, but there’s something to this.

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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