I’m convinced Americans are conditioned to accept lousy service.  When was the last time you got cold fries and ate them anyway?  When was the last time you stood in line and said nothing while the employees behind the counter goofed off?  How about when that employee barked at you as if they were doing you a favor?

I had our vehicle repaired at a dealership once and thought they had overcharged us.  When I brought it to the attention of the Service Manager, he cussed me out.  A couple days later the owner of the dealership gave me a call.  He said: “If you don’t like the way we do business go somewhere else.”  I did, and the dealership later folded.

The other day, I bought some pool supplies at a small shop in a neighboring town.  I didn’t think what they sold me was exactly what I needed, but they persuaded me to buy it anyway.  I wasn’t happy that I had to modify the equipment when I installed it and complained using the feedback page on their website.  Their return email said I was rude, an idiot, and claimed customers like me are the reason they hate their job and dread showing up every day.

If it weren’t for customers like me, there wouldn’t be a business or a job.

I once sent an e-mail to the top ten retailers in America just to see how well their customer service fared; of the ten contacted only Kroger responded.

Whatever happened to that slogan “The customer is always right?”  The inversion of that seems to be the rule anymore.  The customer’s always wrong; even if they’re right.  Customer service is representative of the company, but few seem to care about that anymore.

I’ll give you a tale of two convenience stores.  One I often visit in the morning.  There, the owner has befriended this customer.  The other, elsewhere, I visit at times in the afternoon.  The employees there usually send me off, after the purchase, with a derogatory parting slur.  I’ve yet to complain of the treatment – one might say I’ve been conditioned.

A lady friend told me the other day her company’s philosophy concerning customer service is: “The customer is always right.  Make ‘em happy.  Have someone available 24/7.  It’s the customer who provides our job.”

That brings me to the main thrust of this piece.

The mayor of a neighboring town, a friend, lost his job last election cycle because he didn’t fulfill the expectations of his customers, the city’s constituency.  (You might say perception is 9/10 the rule)

I’ve heard that stale logic, many times over, that government can’t be run like a business – I vehemently disagree.  Greece has been run like a government entity and it’s on the verge of becoming a third world country.  How do you think third world countries get that way?

The United States is on the verge of falling off the fiscal cliff itself.  If the US is too big to fail, as some may believe, only a fool would never contemplate its collapse.  Yet, some thought Rome couldn’t fall either.

Americans need to change their perception about the way government is run.  The country needs to be viewed as a business, a conglomerate with a CEO, upper-level management, middle-management, department heads, supervisors and millions of employees.  Government takes in revenue and provides services that you may or may not use.  Why shouldn’t it be considered a business?

There are citizen shareholders who have a stake in the land but contribute nothing – that’s fine if they legitimately can’t – but there are those who circumvent the prevailing norm, do nothing, yet reap the benefit of others toil.  Isn’t that shoplifting from a retail perspective?

Most would concede that the federal government isn’t run efficiently and when a change at the top comes a different mindset need be enacted.  The belief “Government is broken” is gaining traction with many an American.

Many believe customer service is of little concern to the President.  Congress may be the board, but they can’t dismiss the CEO.  Only the shareholders of America, the citizenry, can accomplish that every four years.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org.

© Greg Allen ~ All Rights Reserved