The Impact of Diminishing Service Standards on Local Communities

Accepting Mediocrity: The Unsettling Trend of Lowered Service Standards

Harry Catrakilis reflects on recent personal experiences and how these lowered service standards reflect a bigger issue for communities and clients across America.

“Over the weekend, I visited the local supermarket to pick up something from their deli for lunch. I was met with a surprisingly long line, where everyone seemed resigned to the wait, a sharp contrast to the proactive customer service I typically remember. The staff appeared indifferent, embodying an ‘it is what it is’ attitude.

Unwilling to wait, I opted for a nearby Mexican fast-food outlet instead. The place, run by no more than three older employees, mirrored the supermarket’s lack of enthusiasm. The service was slow, exacerbated by a large order ahead of me, and the staff’s focus was primarily on the drive-thru and not walk-in customers. They instructed me to use the touch-screen kiosk for ordering, the impersonal interaction further highlighting the decline in service standards I once admired.

Catrakilis Family Harry Catrakilis Nick CATRAKILIS and late fatherSitting there waiting, I reminisced about arriving in the USA with my late father in 1978. He was impressed by the service and efficiency, often remarking, “Now you see why America is number one in business.” He used to say that out of ten tasks in the USA, eight or nine would be handled pleasantly, a stark contrast to Greece where the situation was the reverse.

This excellence in the United States seems to have faded. In contrast, the service levels in Greece or other countries who try to emulate the United States have improved. Today, both the USA and Greece perform at a mediocre level, where half the tasks are done well and the other half poorly. The United States went from eight out of ten tasks handled well to five, whereas Greece has gone from two to five.

This decline serves as a reminder to CKH Group to uphold our commitment to exceptional service and not compromise our standards.

CKH Group works with small cities and counties, assisting them in closing their audits to ensure compliance for eligibility for state and federal funding. I’m often struck by their gratitude for simple recognition and service—remnants of the old American values of respect and thankfulness. However, many professional firms we encounter now display arrogance and a dismissive attitude, causing significant issues for these communities, including delays in accessing funds.

This “we are too busy for you” attitude has created a lot of pain for these communities as they are in arrears and therefore cannot partake in funds that they could have had normally.

The decline in service quality and professionalism isn’t just a local issue; it’s widespread, prompting a lowering of expectations across the board. Another story I was told that reinforces this decline is a company that had a recent townhall where they announced a corporate decision to lay off 20% of staff. When some staff raised their concerns that service levels would drop as a result, management responded that it is okay; the customer will accept the lower service level because the industry is going in that direction. The customer, even if they “shop around” will find that it is an industry-wide phenomenon and must adjust to lower standards.

However, I believe that as more people and firms recognize the severity of this decline, a shift will occur. According to a principle from Economics 101, as service levels fall industry-wide, new players will emerge who value and provide the high service levels customers deserve. CKH Group aims to be one of those key players providing services that go above and beyond mediocrity.

In summary, it seems that the common impression amongst large companies is that good service equals consistent mediocre service, and this acceptance of mediocrity is not something I’m willing to settle for. I hope instead for a return to the high standards that once defined American business.” -Harry Catrakilis

The above article only intends to provide general information and reflection. It is not designed to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. It does not give personalized tax, financial, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any form of action, you should consult a financial professional who understands your particular situation. CKH Group will not be held liable for any harm/errors/claims arising from the blog. Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the contents, we will not be held accountable for any changes that are beyond our control.

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About the Author

Harry Catrakilis Founder CPA

Harry Catrakilis has over 30 years of experience in the practice of public accounting, corporate financial management, and investment banking.  He was managing partner of CKH from 2003 until summer of 2018 when main operations were passed on to CEO Nico Meyer. This blog was written by and is the candid reflections of Harry Catrakilis.

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