Thursday, March 15, 2012

Business As Usual

Over the last decade or so, I have watched the principals that made an American company last, degrade at an increasingly faster pace. Customer Service is fast becoming a lost art. Modern day companies seem to care more about the bottom line than they do about whether or not their customers (or their employees) are happy. Profit is now king. Big companies claim to value their customers and their employees, but I'm not buying it.

Executive Director and head of the Goldman Sachs United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Greg Smith wrote an article in the NY Times, Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs. Mr. Smith makes some very insightful observances about how a culture that once valued  its customers needs, and promoted a sense of morality has seen a major decline. I think that what he has to say about Goldman Sachs can also be said about big business in general.

The one thing that upsets me (and I'm sure, most people) is the lack of trust that Corporate America is promoting. In the case of financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, there is a certain amount of trust that an individual has to have to do business with them. These people are handling your money after all. You have to trust them to do what is in your best interest. We're talking financial stability for a lot of people. Misuse of this trust can mean the loss of retirement funds, or housing, or college tuition.  If everyone were a financial expert, we wouldn't need companies like Goldman Sachs in the first place, but we do, and trust is an integral part of doing business. I agree with Mr. Smith when he says that losing that trust means losing future business.

I do believe the same can be said for the service industry as a whole, including retail. People trust these companies as their source for goods, service, and as their employers, but many companies are quickly becoming known for electronic call centers, dropped calls, and a general atmosphere of disdain for the customer. Have a problem? Don't bother contacting customer service. Chances are, you won't get the outcome you desire, or deserve. Sure, if you walk into a brick and mortar store, you will likely get what you want right away. That is because they want to get rid of you as fast as possible, but companies that can rely solely on telecommunications, will. Then they don't have to deal with you. I really don't understand how a company can sustain this kind of behavior long term, and not lose a significant amount of business.

I guess the motive is to make as much money off of the public as quickly as possible, because nothing lasts forever. I have to applaud Mr. Smith on his courage, for saying what so many people would like to say.

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