Opinion

In my world, 2019 will be year of happy customers

Joan Brown of Steilacoom is a News Tribune reader columnist.
Joan Brown of Steilacoom is a News Tribune reader columnist. News Tribune file photo

As we begin the new year, I can’t help but think about resolutions I’d like to see made, both by businesses that want to please their customers and by the rest of us who simply want to live as good neighbors.

▪  Who wouldn’t appreciate it if companies would resolve to keep making our favorite foods or merchandise? Dropping a product creates angst, particularly when done without warning.

At least give us time to stock up on that favorite item before we have to scurry about trying to find a decent replacement.

And by the way, keeping the same product name while changing the recipe and ingredients (such as no longer baking with 100-percent whole grains or whole wheat flour) is the same as no longer making that product.

▪  Green is not the new blue, as one article declared recently, and companies should resolve to let people be able to match colors from year to year.

This country may have a panel of “color czars” who determine what hues should dominate various industries for the next few years. But when they try to tell me what color blender I should buy, they’ve gone too far.

I’d also like to be able to find sport shirts and blouses in the same colors as the ones my husband or I like but now need to be replaced.

▪  If hotels really wanted guests to save natural resources by reusing towels for the duration of their stay, they’d resolve to install enough rods. Otherwise, it’s just a way to reduce hotel expenses.

▪  Quit reducing portions, such as the number of ounces in a can. Do you think we have failed to notice that you continue to charge the same price? And do you realize how many recipes you have messed up in the process?

▪  Fellow travelers, please be mindful of that huge backpack you’re wearing. It might make life easier for you, but it’s a lethal weapon to people standing near you on the elevator or those seated on the aisle. Resolve to move and turn carefully.

▪  Restore people power to customer service. I’ve read that hotels and vacation rentals will soon be rolling out Alexa for Hospitality. A robot does not have interpersonal skills, lacks empathy and will probably be impatient with my plea to speak to a human being.

▪  Wait awhile before asking for more money. We all have good reasons to support charities of our choice, but we begin to have second thoughts when they waste our donations by mailing weekly requests for more before they’ve thanked us for the last one.

▪  Resolve to be a smarter Postal Service. The post office returns a card or letter, even from one coast to the other, because the “forwarding time has expired.” This despite the fact postal workers have put a tag on it showing the new address within the same state for the intended recipient.

Returning it to sender accomplishes nothing but annoying customers and forcing them to pay another 50 cents to get it to the right place.

▪  Give us something to grip. We know you mean well in wanting to protect margarine and other food products with plastic liners. But would it cost that much to make the tabs longer so we wouldn’t have so much trouble pulling them off?

None of this will make a perfect world. But it would be encouraging to think that, even though the customer may not always be right, he or she at least deserves a company’s attention.

It’s certainly true of what we want from one another. One of the greatest compliments we can receive is for someone to say, “He or she listens to what I have to say.”

For the rest of this new year, I also resolve to keep trying.

Joan Brown of Steilacoom is a freelance writer and author of the book "Move - And Other Four-Letter Words." She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Contact her at joantbrown@aol.com

LAST CALL FOR READER COLUMNISTS

We are looking for a new panel of reader contributors who represent the diversity of South Sound residents. Applicants should submit two freshly written sample columns, each 500 to 650 words.

Include a cover letter telling us a bit about yourself and how to contact you during the day. Please attach a photo of yourself, and put “Reader columnist” in the subject line.

Samples should be personal essays grounded in first-hand experience and observations, not commentary on national or political issues.

Submit your samples by email to:

karen.irwin@thenewstribune.com

The deadline is Sunday (Jan. 13).

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