My Irish friend Sarah recently wrote a post about a trip to the USA, and the stark difference between customer service in Ireland and stateside:
In Ireland, no matter what shop you go into, the main purpose of the assistants is to make clear that you neednÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think you are any better than them just because they are on the other side of the counter. Refusal to make eye contact, flinging change on the counter (or managing to put it in your hand without looking at you which takes considerable effort) grumpily announcing that all sizes are on display and consciously avoiding oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s attempt to attract attention.
The Irish folks in the comment thread unilaterally agree. All of my Irish friends would regularly complain about the service in Ireland. They sometimes found the service in North America a little ingenuine, but they preferred too much help to not enough.
There’s tangible evidence of this attitude implicit in the way Irish clerks greet you in many shops. They say “are you okay, there?” I never really knew what the correct answer to that question was. If I needed assistance, I think I was supposed to say “no”, as in “I’m not okay, I need your help finding hot pants”, or whatever.
The subtext of “are you okay, there?” is, of course, “do I actually have to deign to do my job and help you?”
I asked several Irish people why there’s such a lousy attitude in the service industry. Nobody gave me a satisfactory answer.