Low service expectations

Where are the poor service levels in Germany coming from? German consumers are not accustomed to good service and they perceive the poor service levels they get from most businesses as set in stone. Not knowing better service levels, German consumers usually don’t demand improvements.  

A very telling is an experience at OBI, a home improvement chain. A customer who was engaged for one minute in a sales conversation with a store associate was interrupted by another customer and told to not ask too many questions. This wasn’t only rude but also sheds some light on the German mindset when it comes to customer service expectations. 

The German mentality with never challenging the status quo prevents better customer service levels in Germany. This mentality drives the low customer service levels demanded by consumers and the low customer service levels delivered by businesses. 

German consumers may not be aware of what they are missing by being satisfied with the service levels they get currently. It’s almost like the product availability in the former communist countries in Eastern Europe. Availability of almost any product was very poor then, but most consumers considered that for granted. They simply didn’t know, and were not allowed to know, that a market economy with its self-regulating demand and supply can provide acceptable product availability. 

It sometimes even looks like German consumers were brain washed by businesses when it comes to what is acceptable service. From some Germans you will hear that some customers demand too much service. How do you get to such a twisted view? Are these people shortsighted about what service is acceptable, are they jealous that others know what they want and demand it, or are they simply satisfied with anything they get?


2 comments so far

  1. […] In general, service levels offered by companies depend on the service mindset of their employees. As discussed in this post, German mentality leads to poor service mindset in the average German population. This would imply that companies with German employees offer poor service wherever they operate. However, there isn’t always such a clear cut. Service level depends also on the value that company’s management puts on customer satisfaction by providing for example appropriate training to employees or tying compensation to customer satisfaction.  […]

  2. […] The only reason the percentage of lost customers may be smaller in Germany than in the US is the general acceptance of poor customer service in Germany. I have addressed that in the post on low service expectations. […]

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