They’re baaaaaack! Those annoying Internet flashing banner ads that disappeared for a while have returned with a vengeance. They make my eyes cross and my head ache. They do not make me think, “Oh, that looks interesting. I’d better check it out and see what I’m missing.” Same goes for local tv ads that are broadcast at twice the volume of regular programming. And do you know anyone who adores automated phone systems?

Also rating high on my Annoyance Index is my local supermarket. I only shop there for a few things that the delightful Trader Joe’s can’t supply. A few months ago, I noticed something strange was happening at my neighborhood Von’s. Perhaps they hired a customer service consultant who advised them to be more helpful. Or maybe their manager came up with a plan to endear the store to their waning customer base. It’s not working. Under this new policy, I can be browsing quietly in the store—and then am startled when an employee swoops out of nowhere to ask me if I need help. Scaring the daylights out of me is not their worst offense, however. 

The other day I dropped in to pick up a few items. After I’d paid for them, I was asked, “Do you need help out with that?” What I had just purchased was a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of ketchup and an onion. An automatic question like that doesn’t make me feel like they want to be helpful; it tells me they’re not paying attention. Or, perhaps, they are implying that anyone as aged and frail as I am, shouldn’t be trusted getting to their car with such a load.

In Fromm and Schlesinger’s The Real Heroes of Business, they say, “If you want to know how to give great service, find people who do it and watch them.”  If you want to know how to avoid giving great service, watch people who annoy you. (By the way, there are lots more of the latter than the former.) Then decide which you want as your role model.

Person without a smiling face must not open a shop. ~ Chinese Proverb