I begin most transactions with people in the customer service industry with “Hi, how are you?” It’s a pleasantry that takes only a moment. Sometimes the service rep gets this look on her face like a deer caught in headlights. It becomes immediately obvious that nothing in her experience taught her to be prepared for it.
And why should she be prepared for it, given the signal she sends by initiating our interaction with “May I help the next customer?” Oh what a joy it is to be referred to as “The next customer”. That’s how I think of myself: the next customer. Sure, it’s four more syllables than “May I help you?” but it’s worth it, given that it sends the unmistakable message that our transaction will lack the tiniest trace of authenticity or humanity.
Frankly the DMV’s greeting of “Customer 372” is more personal. After all, everybody is at one time or another “The next customer”. But only I am customer 372.
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