Cattle Disguised as People

Yesterday, I had the displeasure of going to a pharmacy and being treated as a non-human.

Walking up to the window with a prescription, the person behind the counter, busy inputting something-or-other into a computer, barely registered any recognition of my existence. Now I understand the desire to complete a task before moving on the next one, but to make no eye contact, to give no greeting, to not say (with a smile) “just a minute, please, sir, while I get this finished up, then I’ll be right with you.” – nothing?

I’m a person, a customer, not cattle. What a contrast from my recent experience being in the more hospitable South.

When it was finally my turn to exist, the person behind the counter, without even looking up into my face, extended his hand as the signal that he was now ready to process my paperwork. Not serve a customer. Not be an ambassador of good for the company. Just take on the next task, which happened to be me. Totally de-humanizing.

Yes, jobs can be repetitive and boring (read this article: Confessions of a former TSA agent). It can be tempting to treat customers as objects, particularly when those customers have no other options. But you can be outstanding – either as someone who brightens another’s day, or someone who darkens it. As we all seemed to conclude in last night’s #LeadershipChat, hire for passion and attitude – skill can be imparted. And fire the bad apples quickly!


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

2 Responses to Cattle Disguised as People

  1. We’ve all been “de-humanized” and treated as cattle at some point in our interactions with companies – especially customer service on the phone, restaurants, and retailers.

    That said, I’m not convinced that poor customer service can be tied directly to the hiring process.

    First, many companies make huge mistakes in hiring by incorrectly extrapolating interview behavior of enthusiasm for passion and attitude.

    Second, many managers and supervisors are so bad at their job, their employees literally become depressed and take it out on their customers.

    Finally, the company itself has the ability to turn the simple process of coming to work into despair (read Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job”.

    Before we start blaming the person themselves for having a bad attitude, let’s take a hard look internally to see if we’re the cause of the poor employee motivation, engagement, passion, and satisfaction.

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions

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