May 18, 2018
Great customer service existed at one time. Far before my time. I’ve heard the stories. My grandparents lived in a small working-class Wisconsin town during the 1950s and 1960s. Far from the size of Minneapolis or Chicago. The local grocery store was a Red Owl. My grandmother would tell me about going to the local women’s clothing store and having outfits and refreshments brought to her by sales associates. She wasn’t special, she insisted. In stores across America people were treated like that. You didn’t have to think twice about someone helping you while shopping at Dayton’s.
Then things changed. The economy cratered. Businesses expanded. Shoulder-padded sport coats came into style. And customer service took a nosedive. By the time I started shopping in the early 2000s, the consumer experience was a mess. There was more clothing on the ground than on racks. Sales associates were rarely in sight, and 2007 malls resembled B grade zombie flicks.
My young, highly naïve self was confused. I knew shopping didn’t feel right, but I had little knowledge of the past and none of the future. The arrival of the internet changed everything. Once again, companies had the ability to guide and help you, this time through a digital medium.
From my perspective, it’s fantastic. What was once a lost art form is now being rediscovered as essential for commerce in the digital century. Brands are putting a premium on customer service. Customers are being treated like human beings. Brands are tailoring experiences. Shopping has become comfortable, like slipping into bed. That’s the new expectation. And that’s what makes the the future so exciting. With customer service reinstating itself as a priority in corporate America, the future of shopping looks bright once again, like going back to the future.