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Community In Focus

Community In Focus: The Day Before Thanksgiving
By Mitch Traphagen
Nov 30, 2006, 16:50

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Front Service Clerk Don Trapp loads groceries for customer Carol Holm at the Publix grocery store in Sun City Center. Trapp and his fellow clerks are proof positive that customer service isn’t dead in America. Mitch Traphagen Photo
SUN CITY CENTER - Few would argue that customer service in this country has improved over the years.  As major corporations look for new ways to squeeze pennies and improve the bottom line, customer service has taken a beating and customer call centers have been moved to less-expensive, not-necessarily-English-speaking countries.  Customer service, in fact, has become a standing joke for comedians and a constant source of frustration for everyone else.

But it is still alive in this country – and one only has to look as far as the Publix on U.S. 301 and S.R. 674 in Sun City Center to find it.

While much is made of Black Friday in the retail world, certainly the day before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest shopping days of the year for grocery stores.  And on that day at Publix, the front service clerks were as busy as ever helping people load groceries into their cars – all with a smile and a good word or two.

They never stop moving.  During times in which no customers need their assistance, they are out making certain the garbage cans have been emptied – or, more likely, retrieving carts left in the parking lot.  On the day before Thanksgiving, there were a lot of carts left in the parking lot.

All it takes is a few minutes outside the store to see it in action.  To a person, there were no scowls, no hesitant or surly behavior – there wasn’t even a pierced eyebrow among them (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The clerks (don’t call them bag boys) went about their work with a smile, often listening attentively as customers chatted during the walk to the car.  When they finished carefully loading the groceries, they were usually rewarded with a handshake or a sincere thank you.

And for them, that is enough.  They are just doing their jobs – and they are shining examples that customer service is still alive in America.

© Copyright 2007 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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