I was at Subway last night with the hubby, I like Subway- good cheap food that doesn't clog the arteries. It also provides me a bit of a customer service social experiment opportunity almost every time we go.
Think about the environment. There are a few sandwich artists (some of them really are!) behind the glass, and usually a whole lotta people in line, hungry people. The hungry people want food fast and they can't control how much stuff is put onto their sandwiches, they have to communicate with the artists. The artists have a lot of power here- there can be an element of chincyness if they so do decide, on the flip side they can pile your sandwich high.
Last night we were in line and I noticed the lady on front of me looked a little disgruntled. She was greeted by the artist, and she flatly said "six inch ham on wheat" without making any eye contact or really acknowledging the artist. The artist repeated "ham on wheat- 12 inch?" The customer kinda barked "no- SIX INCH." I noticed the artist looked pretty bored and unengaged. I immediately recognized an opportunity to see if I can engage this person and see if the absent minded customer service was based on the artist, or the customer. So, it was our turn, he said "welcome to Subway, what would you like." I looked him in the eyes and smiled and said "how's it going?" He immediately brightened up and answered, "pretty good." The hubby ordered (as well as acknowledged the artist) and he had no problem starting his sandwich. I said that "I'll rock a six inch turkey on monterey" and he started my order just fine. He also looked more engaged. Going down the line I smiled and greeted and joked with the staff. My sandwich was great, and they were generous. They wished us a great night- unlike the customers before us, and they had smiles on their faces.
I'm not saying this is a scientifically provable theory, that being nice makes it easier to get good service. But I do believe that because I was nice to my sandwich artists, they were happy to serve us. We all ended up having an easy and great customer service experience. In everything, I try to remember that it takes two to tango. The folks out there who "always get bad service" might try being nice to get good service, after all- they are just people like we are.