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Maybe the reason customer service feels like it’s getting worse is that we’re all just a little too focused on ourselves. Or so says a Washington Post article from yesterday that looks at the increasing narcissism and entitlement among people that’s contributing to, among other things, the frequent feeling that service, well, sucks. “In real life, we want what we want and we want it now,” writes staff writer Dan Zak. “No delay. No aggravation. No hassle, pain-free, our way, right away. We’re a highly technical society in a land of plenty.”
Zak makes a point that wasn’t underscored enough in my recent story on customer service. I think there’s little question that customer expectations are rising. We get instant gratification when we buy things online, when we send email from our Blackberries, when we speak with customer service agents in an online chat room. In this sped-up world, having to wait for anything takes on new meaning.
Particularly susceptible to the kind of entitlement that Zak writes about is Generation Y. Zak quotes Dr. Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at the University of San Diego, whose research shows that a sense of entitlement has increased steadily among college students since 1979. You can read intergenerational management author Tammy Erickson’s take on Twenge’s research here. My favorite comment from a reader of Erickson’s column so far? “[I’d] just like to point out that the Gen Ys are the kids of the original ‘Me Generation,’ the Boomers.”
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