I start this blog about customer service on the day they announced in the news that my native country Denmark, in a survey done by the World Economic Forum, is ranked as the number 117th nation when it comes to locals friendliness towards visitors.
Ouch that hurt!
I didn’t expect such a paltry ranking, but I have to admit I am not surprised that we are no where near the top.
After 15 years in a country whose main source of income is tourism, it has been alarmingly clear to me ever since I returned to Denmark almost 3 years ago, that we have serious issues when it comes to our service levels.
In my other home country, Barbados, they often discuss whether or not their service level is up to par; they are all too aware that as a tourist destination, every day they must sell their country in order to prosper. Not to say they don’t have room for improvements as well, but at least they acknowledge the severity of the issue.
Is the lack of friendliness in Denmark because we think tourism isn’t that vital to us?
But it is. As a small nation we are deeply dependent on the rest of the world in order to maintain our high standard of living. It isn’t just tourists who experience the low levels of friendliness and lack of common courtesy. Businesses feel it too. We want and need to trade with the rest of the world, so shouldn’t we start giving our visitors are warm and heartfelt welcome, -who knows they might return to do business with us!
Why is it so difficult to be friendly?
I had a funny experience a while ago. I was catching the bus one cold and windy Copenhagen morning. There was a ton of people at the bus stop, everyone with their shoulders drawn up around their ears and no one speaking a word. As the bus stops everyone pushes to get on board, not giving the bus driver the slightest acknowledgement. When we are finally all cramped like sardines in a can, the bus driver closes the doors. Pulls the speaker and announces with a strong Indian accent: “500 people just entered my bus and only 8 said good morning. That is simply not good enough. I refuse to drive anywhere until everyone has said good morning” And so true, he didn’t move an inch until everyone on the bus like a bunch of naughty kids being scolded sounded out in unison “Good Morning”
That bus driver made my day and hopefully also made a bus full of Danes aware that a little bit of friendliness goes a long way.