August 6, 2014

Bursting the customer service bubble

For years now I have been living in Amstelveen, and trying my darndest to fit in, adapt, learn the language, learn the customs, speak more politely, smile more (those who know me know that this is hardly possible as I naturally have a permanent smile on my face most days). And, on the whole, this great effort of mine has born fruit. I have Amstelveen friends, I know what I am allowed or not allowed to say to people at the bus stop (if they are older than I am, then I may speak to them, using the formal 'u' and dog owners are usually friendly too), and yet, I am continuously surprised how difficult it is to get the customer service I think we all would like and deserve.

So, I had an idea to introduce a blog (either here or separately) which would give both good and less-good stories of experiences we have all had, and perhaps even offer the shopkeepers a chance to respond. See, deep down, in my very critical heart, I am a person who believes that everyone and anyone can change and develop, if they really want to! If people here, (and maybe we non-Dutchies need to be the catalyst to help make that change), would start to speak up about how we would like to be spoken to and what good service means to us, then maybe service providers would listen. The thing is that the Dutch are a very stoic people, and good at tolerating difficult situations. In fact, I think the average Dutchman is taught from an early age not to ask for too much, and to be very grateful with very little. Thus the persisting narrow staircases, manual gear shift cars and no airco.

But, as a person who also gives workshops on successful communication, I do know that if we don't give feedback, then the people we communicate with will never know if they are doing a good job or not.

So, I would like to start by giving some good feedback (and free advertising) to a very nice lunch eatery in Amstelveen. - Lunch room EatItaly. The thing is, that here in our fine city full of expats and foreigners and not so poor Dutch people, it's hard to find food that is reasonably priced, but is still high quality. However, at EatItaly, such a combination actually does exist! You can get delicious fresh Ciabatta rolls with freshly made fillings - if not real Italian - than at least a decent replica - such as Parmaham and Provolone with grilled zucchini. They have tables inside and out, and another amazing but true fact is that there are always enough employees working there that you never have to wait very long at all to get your food! And, with a smile, and at a very good price. And, yes, they are flexible, and you can order things off the menu too! And they have a bathroom which you can use for free (which
isn't the case in Hema for example).

So there! Tell me there isn't a good place to eat in Amstelveen and I will tell you that you just haven't been as far as the Van der Hooplaan 'shopping street.' (I did mention it's a lunch room, right? So, probably not open at dinner time... well, nothing's perfect, right?)