A nation on hold wants to talk to a leader

“He kept shouting, ‘The governor said we no longer had to wear masks,'” Mr O’Brien said. The woman’s response – that they were still required in places with a certain number of workers – only made him more angry.

Eventually the owner arrived and “told the customer never to return,” said Mr. O’Brien.

It’s not just your imagination; behavior is really worse. In a survey of 1,000 American adults during the pandemic, 48 percent of adults and 55 percent of workers said that by November 2020, they had expected politeness in America to improve after the election.

By August, expectations for improvement had dropped to 30 percent overall and 37 percent among workers. Overall, only 39 percent of respondents said they believed the tone of the United States was civil. The survey also showed that people who did not have to work with customers were happier than those who did.

“There’s a growing delta between office workers and those who interact with consumers,” said Micho Spring, president of Global Corporate Communications Strategy at Weber Shandwick, who helped conduct the study.

At the same time, many consumers are rightly outraged at what they consider to be poor service at companies that run a large part of their business online – retailers, cable operators, car rental companies and the like – and it seems almost cheerfully interested in preventing customers from talking to real people.

“The pandemic has allowed many companies to reduce their focus on the quality of the experience they provide to the customer,” said Jon Picoult, founder of Watermark Consulting, a customer service consulting firm.

In part, the problem is the disruption between expectation and reality, said Melissa Swift, U.S. transformation manager at consulting firm Mercer. Before the pandemic, she said, consumers had been seduced into the idea of ​​the “frictionless economy” – the notion that you could have what you wanted the moment you wanted it.

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