A Customer Service Chat with Sherwood Schwarm (Part II)

(Continued from Part 1)

How do you think your view of customer service is different from a Gen Y (30 and younger)?

The younger generation is different. Kids have it easier than their parents do and their parents had it easier than their parents did. Some kids have their hand out and sometimes show a lack of respect. Some parents want to be friends with kids instead of a little more discipline.

Young folks expect more and don’t respect servers that much from what I’ve seen. Younger servers have a lot to learn too.

Any customer service horror stories you want to share?

One dental office around The Villages didn’t do a good job with customer service and my wife. She felt abused and thought they lacked customer service. She had one impression for her partial, which didn’t work. Another impression needed to be done. No apology— they had an appointment at 9 am and we were promised to be out at 10 am but were not out until 11:30 am and had to travel afterwards so we were greatly inconvenienced.

It took 20 appointments to get everything finally fixed in her mouth. There were issues with the partial not fitting and the wrong color.

My wife and I weren’t happy during this experience and later on had a meeting with some representatives of this dental office and overall, they didn’t seem very gracious or apologetic. It was a major disappointment and left a bad taste in our mouth.

We know many people in The Villages (Florida) and if we’re asked, will not say anything-positive things about that dental office. 

Sherwood and Mary Jane Schwarm

Do you expect better service from certain industries? In other words, your expectation is to receive better service at Home Depot or Lowe’s as opposed to the Dollar Store where their differentiating characteristic is price only.

At a ritzy restaurant, you look for more. You dress up for the occasion, buy things that you’d not normally buy and tip more too. We tip at a buffet restaurant even though others don’t do this. We think it’s the right thing to do. We tipped one of our regular servers $2 at a restaurant that didn’t require tipping and she appreciated it. She saved all those $2 bills and bought some jewelry for her grandfather some years ago. He passed on a few years ago and this jewelry is something she uses as a remembrance of her grandfather.

Customer Service disparities regionally. How is service in Florida different from Wisconsin?

Senior servers are good up north too. Sometimes, with many snowbirds coming to Florida, restaurants are crowded and service suffers and I guess that’s to be expected.

Nice to be nice to restaurant people wherever you are, I just think it’s the right thing to do. My neighbor waves from his golf cart to everyone he sees on the way to the golf course. He just feels good doing it.

In terms of store selection, how important is customer service with other factors such as location, price, value and selection?  

1. Patronize the little guy. Guy probably understands the issue and can address your problem.

2. Smaller quantity stores — big wholesalers are not good to use, especially if you’re retired and need few things in large quantities.

3. Return policy

If you notice customer service issues, do you ever see where some of these situations may be more challenging to rectify than others?

In Florida, you see a produce stand on the side of the road with a large sign selling sweet corn and produce stand unkempt. Sherwood would just pass by, regardless of the price. If the sign is in poor condition with words misspelled, won’t that hurt business? You see vendors with a 4 to 5 day old beard and wearing a dirty shirt. Why patronize them? He says, “At the flea market, some vendors are sloppy and unkempt and handle food, what’s that say about their business? Poor hygiene doesn’t market well especially if the economy is not good to begin with.”

Is there anything that’s commonly missing today with how providers service their customers?

1. Very competitive world. Those on commission, things can get intense and some sales clerks can be very pushy. We bought a stove, applied for card and thought we’d be billed on Visa but that didn’t happen. The store switched to their store card to enable us to get a $10 discount even though we didn’t have a payment plan before. We didn’t appreciate that.

2. Warranty. We want businesses to really stand behind their warranty.

3. Don’t include install charge. What’s the final cost going to be? Be transparent with customers.

One thing to keep in mind, I tip everyone. That could be my kid and I think it’s the right thing to do.